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Uganda: Relocation of Sudanese begins

Briefing notes

Uganda: Relocation of Sudanese begins

2 September 2003

The transfer of some 15,000 Sudanese refugees from Kiryandongo camp in Uganda's Masindi District got off to a difficult start yesterday (Monday) as stone-throwing refugee youths staged violent resistance to the government-organised relocation to northern Uganda.

The refugees being moved from Kiryandongo were displaced from Achol-Pii refugee settlement in Kitgum district in August 2002 following a series of vicious attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army on the former settlement of 24,000. The attacks left dozens of refugees dead and large numbers injured. The former Achol-Pii refugees have been living in deplorable and difficult conditions for the last year. The resources of the settlement, which already hosted some 13,000 Sudanese refugees, have been overstretched. Firewood, water, health and educational facilities were insufficient for all the refugees at the camp.

According to accounts by refugees in Kiryandongo, the transfer to Madi Okollo in Uganda's northern Arua district and to Ikafe in Yumbe began at dawn on Monday. The start of the boarding of more than 32 trucks sent to the camp by the government was, however, marred by violence as Sudanese youths tried to bar other refugees from getting on to the trucks. Seven refugees were injured in the ensuing mêlée, two of them seriously. Among the injured was an eight-year-old child.

By mid-afternoon, calm had returned to the camp. A total of 19 trucks departed Kiryandongo for the north in an operation that is expected to be completed by mid-September. All logistics and security for the relocation exercise are being handled by the government of Uganda.