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UNHCR Restores Many Schools In Northern Uganda

UN refugee agency restores dozens of schools across northern Uganda

23 June 2008 - The United Nations refugee agency has restored 134 primary schools in northern Uganda, allowing thousands of children to return to classes, after the damage and destruction caused by two decades of conflict between Government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

UNHCR said some of the restored schools have been rebuilt at their old sites while others have been moved to new sites as peace gradually returns to the north after a series of agreements between the Government and the LRA to end conflict that began in the mid-1980s.

Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been returning home across northern Uganda since the peace talks began two years ago, and now only a final, wide-ranging accord remains to be signed by the two sides.

The UN envoy on the issue, the former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, told the Security Council last week that frustration is growing among many Central African countries that the LRA leadership has not been willing to sign the final accord and that the rebels continue to commit some atrocities.

But the violence and unrest has largely subsided in the region, allowing the large-scale return of civilians and a desire to rebuild basic services.

Sisse Kristensen, a community services officer for UNHCR in Uganda, said many local communities had approached the agency for help as they did not have the resources themselves to rebuild or restore the schools.

"When we realized that there were many such requests from the community, we sat down with the district to develop a strategy on how this could be done," she said.

ENDS

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