UN agency seeks $65 million to feed 1.7 million victims of floods, conflict in Uganda

UN agency seeks $65 million to feed 1.7 million victims of floods, conflict in Uganda

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for $64.6 million to feed up to 1.7 million people in Uganda until March to stave off hunger for victims of severe floods, refugees and others displaced by conflict and civil strife.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for $64.6 million to feed up to 1.7 million people in Uganda until March to stave off hunger for victims of severe floods, refugees and others displaced by conflict and civil strife.

“We are struggling to meet both existing and new, growing needs in Uganda,” WFP Country Director Tesema Negash said. “We particularly need cash now so that we can buy food locally and move it swiftly to those who need it most. Our teams are on the ground distributing food to flood victims, but access is difficult and without new funds, everything is in jeopardy.”

While widespread flooding has recently affected at least 300,000 people, Uganda is trying to cope at the same time with an influx of several thousand potential asylum-seekers fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as with 1.4 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the country.

A September assessment underway in the north-eastern region of Karamoja may also recommend continued WFP assistance for 500,000 people affected by drought, straining resources even further and the number of those in need of food because of floods could rise beyond the current estimate of 300,000.

In addition to food, WFP needs funds for helicopters, boats and emergency repairs to bridges to reach people in villages cut off by rising waters. With rains forecast to continue through October, access could become even worse in the flooded Teso, Lango and Bugisu regions.

The $64.6 million shortfall until March also threatens to force WFP to cut food rations for displaced families in strife-torn northern Uganda as they head home at last after years in crowded camps. In August, WFP fed 122,600 people returning in Acholiland.

“Without new contributions we will have to stop giving returnee rations just when these people need support to rebuild their lives,” Mr. Negash said. “If we can’t deliver, it’s like falling at the last hurdle and it would be a sad way to usher in peace.”

In northern Uganda, WFP food rations are vital for more than 1.2 million people who were uprooted from their homes and forced into camps by the 20-year conflict between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Government forces.

Slow but steady security improvements over the past two years, coupled with peace talks between the parties have encouraged some families to leave the camps to go home or to nearby transit sites, from where they walk daily to their fields.