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Uganda: transfer of Sudanese completed

Briefing notes

Uganda: transfer of Sudanese completed

13 August 2002

UNHCR on Sunday completed the transfer of about 20,000 Sudanese refugees from the northern Uganda town of Lira to a safer location in Kiryondongo, about 100 km south-west of Lira. The refugees had converged in Lira last week after fleeing the August 5th attack on the Acholi-Pii by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. UNHCR welcomes the release by the rebels yesterday (Monday) of the four International Rescue Committee workers abducted during the Acholi-Pii attack.

UNHCR hired a fleet of 80 trucks to move the refugees to safety in a record 4 days. Some of the trucks were sent to areas north of Lira to pick up those who were too frail to walk to the town on their own. Even though all the refugees who arrived in Lira have now been moved, UNHCR staff will remain there for a couple of days to pick up those who may still trickle into the town.

The settlement of Kiryondongo, which already hosts 13,000 people, is being quickly upgraded to accommodate over 23,000 refugees who have now arrived there. A registration is underway to determine how many of the 24,000 people dispersed in the attack on Acholi-Pii have now reached Kiryondongo.

Those arriving at the new site receive plastic sheeting from UNHCR, as well as blankets and jerry cans. Each family is given a plot of land to build their own shelter. Additional latrines are being dug and water pumps are being installed. A new emergency clinic was also set up at the site. Emergency food rations from WFP are being distributed.

The refugees are expected to stay in Kiryondongo for up to one month, before being moved to Kyangwali, further south, on the shores of Lake Albert. The site of Kyangwali, which already holds 6,800 refugees, will be expanded to receive the new influx. Two trucks with enough domestic items for up to 20,000 people have arrived in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, from Tanzania and they will be sent on to Kyangwali.

The new emergency situation in Uganda has placed an additional strain on UNHCR's Uganda budget which is already severely underfunded. From a total budget of US$16 million, UNHCR had only received $5 million by 12 August (including $3 million from the US and $1.8 million from Japan). The average cost of setting up a new camp for 20,000 refugees is $2.5 million. UNHCR is appealing to donors for urgent funds.