UN refugee agency concludes work among displaced in northern Uganda
The United Nations refugee agency said today it has concluded relief work among nearly two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda, the majority of whom have returned to their villages, after years in camps as an insurrection raged in the country’s north.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) closed its office in the northern Uganda town of Gulu last week, bringing to an end its support for those displaced by the warfare that pit Ugandan armed forces against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, the agency’s spokesperson, William Spindler, told reporters in Geneva.
At the conflict’ peak in 2005, there were 1.84 million IDPs living in 251 camps across 11 districts of northern Uganda. Hostilities died down in 2006, allowing most of the IDPs to return to their villages.
The UNHCR office in Gulu had since 2006 focused on camp management and the protection of IDPs. The agency also helped 11,600 of the most vulnerable IDPs to either return home or to integrate into communities where lived. It also provided basic reintegration help, including water, building roads, schools, health centres, police posts and other infrastructure.
Some 30,000 displaced Ugandans are still living in four remaining camps, transit centres and in local communities.
Returnee assistance programmes have been integrated into the Government’s long-term development to ensure a smooth transition from relief to recovery. UNHCR also handed over its protection role to the Ugandan Human Rights Commission, which now handles issues related to IDPs’ land and human rights.