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Uganda: Better security needed, protect displaced

Uganda: UN emergency relief chief urges better security to protect displaced

Touring camps in Uganda housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) who described the fear and suffering they have endured as a result of the activities of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today called for international action to promote better security in the area.

Jan Egeland travelled to Pader district in northern Uganda, where he visited the Patango IDP camp. Leaders there stressed the need for improved water and sanitation as well as better health facilities and educational opportunities.

Mr. Egeland also held a private meeting with a group of more than 30 women residents who reported that fear ruled their lives. Some of the women had had between one and four of their children abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the latest as recently as December 2005.

On a walk through the camp, he held further discussions with community leaders, met representatives of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Medair, and visited a health clinic operated by Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) and International Medical Corps. Representatives of those groups stated that malaria and HIV/AIDS are serious concerns, with higher disease prevalence rates in the camps than in the rest of the country.

After returning to Pader town, Mr. Egeland met UN authorities and NGO representatives from Pader, Lira, Kitgum and Gulu districts of northern Uganda. They highlighted the need for improved security, conflict resolution, camp management and increased available land so that people can help feed themselves.

“The more than 30 NGOs working in northern Uganda have made a real difference in meeting the humanitarian needs of the displaced,” Mr. Egeland said. “Much more is being done now, compared to two years ago – but the international community must do still more,” he said. “Most importantly, we need to see better security and protection for the displaced,” he stressed.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator also met ex-LRA combatants in Pader town. He underscored the need to do much more to encourage demobilization, reintegration and national reconciliation of ordinary fighters, but also emphasized that the highest commanders of the LRA – those indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) –must be brought to justice.

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