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Uganda: death toll from rebel attack rises to six

Briefing notes

Uganda: death toll from rebel attack rises to six

12 July 2002

The death toll from Monday's rebel attack on a refugee settlement in north-western Uganda has risen to six amid new fears of further attacks on local communities and refugees in northern Uganda. One more refugee died on Wednesday night from injuries sustained during a Monday afternoon raid by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army on Maaji settlement in Adjumani district.

UNHCR is working with its partners to bring assistance to nearly 8,000 Sudanese refugees who fled their homes in the LRA attack. In addition to supplies already in stock in Adjumani, aid for up to 5,000 people is being prepared in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, for immediate dispatch to the northern district. Because of continuing insecurity along the Gulu-Adjumani road, UNHCR will have to use a more circuitous route to get the urgently needed supplies to the refugees.

Nearly 2,500 newly-displaced refugees are now lodged in two churches and a feeding centre in the area, while others are sheltering under trees. Others have gathered in parts of the settlement which previously had some 11,000 refugees, or have moved on to the nearby Ukusijoni settlement, 10 km away. By Tuesday, hundreds of tired and frightened refugees were on the road to Adjumani, the nearest town, 45 km away in the north-east. The sanitation situation in the area is worrisome because of a lack of water.

UNHCR staff and Ugandan officials reported that more than 150 houses were burned by the estimated 200 rebels, who also looted drugs and equipment from the settlement's health centre. The rebels also torched five classrooms in a primary school used by refugees and a grinding mill at a local trading centre. The government has sent in more troops.

Meanwhile, marauding LRA rebels on Wednesday reportedly killed a government official in Kitgum, some 200 km east of Maaji, the scene of Monday's raid. This has sparked new fears of possible attacks on nearly 24,000 Sudanese refugees living in the Achol-Pii camp in Kitgum. Reports of the killing have triggered panic among the refugees in the camp, where more than 100 people were killed in an attack by the LRA in 1997. UNHCR remains very concerned about the safety of this group of refugees as well.