Uganda mission by UNHCR Executive Committee chairman

Briefing Notes, 15 September 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 15 September 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Chairman of UNHCR's Executive Committee, Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, arrived in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday (Thursday) for a three-day visit during which he will inspect UNHCR's programmes for refugees and displaced Ugandans some of whom have already began returning home to villages they left nearly two decades ago. With the recent signing of a peace agreement between the Uganda government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), coupled with improved security in many parts of the north, we expect that up to half a million displaced Ugandans could decide to return to their villages in the coming months.

Amb. Fujisaki's visit to Uganda is his second to Africa since his election as 'ExCom' Chairman in October last year. He has also visited Burundi. The Executive Committee is UNHCR's 70-nation governing body which reviews and approves the organisation's programmes and budget, and provides advice. This year, its annual meeting will take place the first week of October.

Amb. Fujisaki is scheduled to meet today with Ugandan Prime Minister Moses Ecweru and other senior government officials before travelling tomorrow (Saturday) to Gulu and Lira in the north. The two districts are among four locations in northern Uganda where UNHCR is starting new programmes, alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, to assist up to 1.5 million displaced Ugandans. We also expect to expand operations to Kitgum and Pader before the end of this month.

Early this year, UNHCR opened new offices in Gulu and Lira in preparation for our operations to aid the return of the nearly 800,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the two districts.

As security improves gradually in the north, some IDPs have already moved back to their villages of origin. Many others, however, remain cautious, preferring to spend only the day in their villages tilling their land, then returning to the camps at night. This is a formula that has been used for years by communities living in the north, in particular children, to escape marauding bands of the LRA who are notorious for kidnapping and abusing children.




UNHCR country pages

A Time Between: Moving on from Internal Displacement in Uganda

This document examines the situation of IDPs in Acholiland in northern Uganda, through the stories of individuals who have lived through conflict and displacement.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Fighting in South Sudan between government troops and rival forces since December has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have sought shelter at temporary transit and reception centres just inside northern Uganda. The UN refugee agency has since early January reopened three former refugee settlements and moved an estimated 50,000 to these sites deeper inside Uganda, where it is easier to provide them with protection and assistance. After being taken by truck to one such settlement, Nyumanzi I, lying some 30 kilometres from the border, the new arrivals are given relief items such as food, blankets, mats and kitchenware as well as a plot of land from the government on which to build a shelter. The settlement has been filling up quickly. UNHCR and partners have been working around the clock to build roads, install water distribution networks and provide access to health care. By early February, homes and small shops had sprung up across the settlement as the South Sudanese got on with their lives while closely monitoring the situation back home in the hope of one day returning.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

After fighting engulfed his hometown of Bor in South Sudan last December, Matiop Atem Angang fled with his extended family of 15 - including his 95-year-old mother, his six children and his sister's family. They left the capital of Jonglei state, one of the areas worst affected by the violence of the last two months. A one-week journey by boat and truck brought them to safety in neighbouring Uganda.

At the border, Matiop's large family was taken to a UNHCR-run transit centre, Dzaipi, in the northern district of Adjumani. But with thousands of South Sudanese refugees arriving every day, the facility quickly became overcrowded. By mid-February, the UN refugee agency had managed to transfer refugees to their own plots of land where they will be able to live until it is safe for them to go home. Uganda is one of very few countries that allow refugees to live like local citizens. These photos follow Matiop through the process of registering as a refugee in Uganda - an experience he shares with some 70,000 of his compatriots.

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

On the Road: UNHCR Transfers Congolese Refugees to A Home in Uganda

In mid-July 2013, thousands of Congolese refugees began pouring over the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into Bundibugyo district in western Uganda. They were fleeing fighting triggered when a Ugandan rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces, attacked the town of Kamango in DRC's troubled North Kivu province. Many stayed in the mountainous border area, but others gravitated to the Bubukwanga Transit Centre deeper inside Uganda. Here, they were provided with protection and aid by the government, UNHCR and its partners. But the transit centre, with a capacity to hold 12,500 people, was soon overcrowded and people were encouraged to move to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement located 280 kilometres to the north in Hoima District. Since the first convoy left Bubukwanga for Kyangwali on August 14, more than 11,000 people have relocated to the settlement, where they have access to more comprehensive and long-term services. Photographer Michele Sibiloni recently visited Bubukwanga and followed a convoy of refugees as they made their way to the Kyangwali settlement.

On the Road: UNHCR Transfers Congolese Refugees to A Home in Uganda

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.
Uganda: Unique Approach For South SudanesePlay video

Uganda: Unique Approach For South Sudanese

Uganda has taken in thousands of South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict. The government is helping the new arrivals by giving them land on which to build a shelter.
Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.