Briefing Notes, 6 January 2012
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 6 January 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The UN refugee agency has ended its assistance to nearly 2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Uganda as the vast majority have returned home.
Last week, we closed the UNHCR office in Gulu, northern Uganda after five years of assisting and protecting people displaced by fighting between the Ugandan army and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. At the conflict's peak in 2005, there were 1.84 million IDPs living in 251 camps across 11 districts of northern Uganda.
Since the warring parties signed an agreement to cease hostilities in 2006, almost all IDPs have returned to their villages on their own. UNHCR opened its Gulu office in 2006, focusing on camp management and the protection of IDPs. The agency has since helped 11,600 of the most vulnerable IDPs to either return home or to integrate where they are. This involves resolving land issues, building huts and latrines for needy individuals, providing a start-up kit and support safety net in the form of blankets, kitchen sets, livestock, seeds and tools.
For the wider returnee community, UNHCR has provided basic reintegration help, providing safe water, building roads, schools, health centres, police posts and other infrastructure.
Some 30,000 displaced Ugandans are still living in four remaining camps, as well as former camps, transit centres and in local communities. 247 IDP camps have been closed after making sure that the land was cleaned up and rehabilitated before being handed back to the original owners.
Further actions and interventions on behalf of the returned IDPs have now been integrated into the government's long-term development and recovery programmes so as to ensure that the transition from humanitarian/relief to recovery/development efforts is as seamless as possible, and in order to maintain the sustainability of returns. UNHCR has also handed over its protection role to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, which now handles issues related to IDPs' land and human rights.
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