UNHCR to help victims of Uganda landslide

Geneva, Wednesday 3 March 2010

UNHCR has agreed to provide urgent assistance to Ugandans left homeless by a major landslide in the east of the country. Our team in Uganda has mobilized an initial stock of tents and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter that will cover the needs of 5,000 people.

The damaging landslide, first reported on Tuesday, was caused by several days of heavy downpour and floods that washed away people and property mainly in Bududa District, some 275km northeast of Kampala. According to initial government estimates, 55 people have been killed in Bududa while 300 are still missing. The natural disaster also struck nearby districts. We fear that the total number of displaced and dead people could increase as government-led assessment teams reach more affected areas.

"This is human tragedy that we cannot turn a blind eye to", says António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees whose agency is assisting the landslide victims on humanitarian grounds. "This is a sad reminder of the suffering that natural disasters are imposing on more and more poor people across the globe."

Since October last year, Uganda has been experiencing heavy rains believed to be the consequence of the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to last for another month.