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Food For Survivors Of Uganda Refugee Camp Massacre

UN Agency Distributes Food To Survivors Of Uganda Refugee Camp Massacre

The United Nations emergency feeding agency has begun distributing aid to thousands of survivors of a massacre at a refugee camp in northern Uganda where some 200 people, mostly women and children, were hacked with machetes or burned to death last Saturday by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"People are totally traumatized after what they have been through. They've also lost the little they had. They are sleeping under the trees. It's a terrible situation," Ken Davies, World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director for Uganda, said yesterday after visiting victims of the attack, one of the worst in several years, at Barlonyo camp where 4,800 people were living.

Forty tons of food, enough for 5,000 people for a month, have been brought from Lira town to Ogur health centre, five kilometres from the camp, where most survivors have gathered. After the attack, WFP provided 4.6 tons of food to Lira's hospital for the injured.

Since September, WFP has regularly aided more than 81,000 displaced people, providing 740 tons of food per month. As a result of the massacre, the second major LRA attack in Lira within two weeks, the number of displaced persons in rural camps is increasing by the day.

The agency warned today that the potential for continuing ethnic violence persists. Violence broke out on Wednesday, a day of mourning for massacre victims in Lira town. An unknown number of Acholi people were killed and others beaten. The LRA, which has waged an 18-year-long fight to topple President Yoweri Museveni, is largely composed of ethnic Acholi.

An additional 200,000 civilians who fear for their safety are reported to have gathered in camps in rural areas of Lira district. On Monday, WFP is sending an emergency response team to register and assess their needs as well as plan a humanitarian intervention strategy.

The new population movement will increase the number of internally displaced people assisted by WFP in Uganda to over 1.6 million, putting additional pressure on existing food resources.

Earlier this week the Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, noted that the LRA has been accused of many atrocities, including abducting children for use as sex slaves, and he called for "the perpetrators of this appalling crime" at Barlonyo to be brought to justice in accordance with international norms.

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