Closure of camps starts in Northern Uganda as IDPs return home

Briefing Notes, 11 September 2007

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 11 September 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The first two out of 40 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) are to be closed today in Uganda's northern Lango region as most of the IDPs there have gone home. This is the result of the improved security situation, ongoing peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and generally improved freedom of movement. Estimates are that some 92 percent of some 466,000 IDPs in the Lango Region at the height of the displacement in 2005 have returned. The camps in the Lango region were established between 2002 and 2004.

However, the situation is different in the Acholi region where, out of some 1.1 million IDPs in 2005, more than 63 percent remain in the camps. With the continuation of peace talks and continually improving security we expect to see more IDPs return to their homes.

This morning, the Ugandan Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, the UNHCR representative in Kampala and former IDPs will symbolically close the deserted Otwal Railway and Agweng camps by demolishing huts and planting trees. The closure of the scheduled 40 camps in the Lango region should be completed by mid-2008.

We are the lead agency for camp management in Uganda. The camp closure will include tearing down empty huts, filling in pit latrines and levelling the land. In addition, where needed, a mine action team will assess the area. The budget for the camp phase-out activities is US$5,000 per camp. The total cost of the scheduled closure of the first 40 camps is US$200,000.

Some of the IDP sites were formed around major trading centres and will continue to have a significant number of inhabitants. UNHCR intends to transform all residual IDP sites into viable communities. The Camp Phase-out Committees will identify these former camps and advise on activities to facilitate their transformation into sustainable communities. The budget for these activities is US$18,000 per camp and so far three are scheduled for such transformation. UNHCR will carry out environmental rehabilitation and environmental education in consultation with the host community and local authorities. Subject to the availability of funds, support for the re-establishment of market facilities, rehabilitation of roads, health and education facilities, tree planting, support of livelihoods, etc. will be also implemented.

At the peak of displacement, in 2005, there were 242 camps hosting 1,842,500 IDPs forced from their homes by the war between the LRA and the Ugandan Government forces. As of the end of June 2007, 539,550 IDPs had returned to their homes and some 916,000 IDPs remain in the camps. Another 381,000 moved to the new sites closer to their homes.




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.

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

During Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war more than 1 million people were uprooted from their homes or forced to flee, often repeatedly. Many found shelter in UNHCR-supported Open Relief Centers, in government welfare centers or with relatives and friends.

In February 2002, the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a cease-fire accord and began a series of talks aimed at negotiating a lasting peace. By late 2003, more than 300,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their often destroyed towns and villages.

In the midst of these returns, UNHCR provided physical and legal protection to war affected civilians – along with financing a range of special projects to provide new temporary shelter, health and sanitation facilities, various community services, and quick and cheap income generation projects.

Sri Lanka: IDPs and Returnees

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

On August 5, 2002, some 24,000 Sudanese refugees fled their homes in Achol-Pii camp in northern Uganda after a bloody attack by the Lord's Liberation Army rebel group. More than 60 refugees and many local villagers were killed in the attack.

Fearing further violence, displaced refugees trekked overnight to Lira, from where UNHCR trucked them to Kiryondongo, 100 km to the south-west. Kiryondongo site, a settlement already hosting 13,000 refugees, was temporarily extended to accommodate the Achol-Pii survivors until another site could be prepared.

Arriving families were initially accommodated at an expanded reception centre at Kiryondongo. After being registered, the new arrivals received UNHCR plastic sheeting, an emergency food ration and a 20 x 15-metre plot per family to build their own temporary shelter. UNHCR also distributed blankets and jerry cans. Additional latrines were also dug, new water pumps installed and a new emergency clinic was set up.

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

Nyakabande: A haven in Uganda from the storm in North Kivu

The Nyakabande Transit Centre in southern Uganda was reopened by UNHCR and the Ugandan government in February 2012 to cope with a growing number of Congolese civilians crossing the border to escape general lawlessness in Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu province. Initially designed to cope with 500 people, the transit centre has been swamped with new arrivals fleeing waves of violence since April between DRC government forces and fighters from the rebel M23 movement. UNHCR helped expand capacity to 11,000 people and arranged transport from the border, but the inflow placed a severe strain on the facilities. The centre has registered and assisted more than 51,000 people since January, most of them from North Kivu. At its peak, last July, the transit centre was hosting more than 10,000 refugees. In a bid to decongest the centre, UNHCR provided transport for more than 30,000 Congolese to the refugee settlement at Rwamwanja, some 350 kilometres to the north of Nyakabande. For many of those fleeing eastern DRC, Nyakabande was a beacon of hope and a haven from the storm convulsing their home region. The latest fighting in North Kivu in November has not had much of an impact, but people still arrive daily.

Nyakabande: A haven in Uganda from the storm in North Kivu

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.