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Uganda attack: fact-finding teams dispatched

Briefing notes

Uganda attack: fact-finding teams dispatched

6 August 2002

UNHCR today is sending two separate fact-finding teams into northern Uganda, following Monday's devastating attack by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) on the Acholi-Pii Camp refugee camp which housed 24,000 Sudanese refugees. The pre-dawn raid on the camp left at least 14 people dead and dispersed the camp's entire population.

Details of Monday's attack remain sketchy. A camp manager, who briefly toured the area in an army helicopter late Monday, said at least 14 persons were killed in the attack - eight refugees and six Ugandans. But he said the actual toll could be much higher.

Our staff travelling to the area today will be accompanied by colleagues from the World Food Programme (WFP) and an official from the Ugandan prime minister's office. The first team will travel to Kiryondongo, 200 km north of the capital. Kampala, where some of those who fled from Acholi-Pii took shelter. Another team will go to the nearby town of Lira where up to 2,000 Acholi-Pii refugees are believed to have fled.

We understand that about 10,000 Acholi-Pii refugees have reached Rachkoko, 20 km west from Acholi-Pii. 10,000 refugees may still be in the vicinity of the destroyed camp.

According to the sketchy information available so far, two International Rescue Committee local staff - the agency's doctor and a logistician - have been abducted by the rebels. IRC was our main partner at Acholi-Pii and employed 30 staff at the camp. Two Ugandan schoolteachers are also reported kidnapped by the LRA rebels.

The insurgents stole food from the Acholi-Pii's warehouse, including wheat flour, 800 cases of cooking oil and corn soya blend. The WFP recently delivered $150,000 worth of food to Acholi-Pii. The food aid and medical supplies that may have been specifically targeted by the rebels.

The LRA attackers burned five vehicles and the staff living quarters and destroyed various office equipment. The compound of the Diocese of Torit, which is based in Acholi-Pii, was also set ablaze.

There are 155,000 Sudanese refugees living in settlements in northern Uganda. The region has been unstable for some 15 years, and there are more than 500,000 Ugandan displaced persons as a result of the LRA's attacks.