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UGANDA: Plan to reconstruct the north

KAMPALA, 17 October 2007 (IRIN) - War-ravaged northern Uganda is to be reconstructed at a cost of US$600 million, according to the government.

The rehabilitation, announced by President Yoweri Museveni on 16 October, is intended to restore stability to the region after 20 years of warfare pitting the Ugandan government against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal insurgency that often targeted civilians for murder, maiming and abduction.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and forced to live in crowded camps.

Most of the funding is expected to come from donors and a conference is being organised to secure funding commitments, according to David Wakikona, the minister in charge of the region.

"The goal of the plan is stabilisation in order to consolidate peace, recovery and rehabilitation of the north," Museveni said.

He said the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for Northern Uganda would be implemented over the next three years. Some funds were, however, immediately available to help people who were maimed during the conflict.

In a related development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for the first time in Uganda launched a food airdrop operation as part of an effort to reach tens of thousands of displaced people after heavy rains and severe flooding made aid delivery by road in northern and eastern regions of the country impossible.

An Antonov-12 cargo aircraft on 13 October started a month-long operation to drop food from the air to thousands of displaced people, according to a statement. Cereals, pulses, sugar and highly nutritious corn-soya blend were being delivered by air from stores in the northern town of Gulu.

"Resorting to food airdrops reflects the severity of the heavy rains and floods, which in some parts of Uganda are the worst in 35 years," said WFP Uganda Acting Country Director Alix Loriston. "There is simply no other way to get survival rations to isolated people.”

Flooding has directly affected 300,000 people in northern and eastern Uganda, while tens of thousands of displaced in the north of the country are still unreachable as floodwaters have cut off roads.

The northern Uganda rehabilitation plan's other immediate priority requirements include the provision of safe drinking water, rebuilding of schools, establishing health services and carrying out immunisation campaigns and HIV/AIDS awareness programmes. Other services envisaged under the plan include micro-finance facilities and the provision of farming implements.

In 2005, the number of displaced people's camps in the northern regions of Acholi, Lango, West Nile and Teso was put at 242, with an estimated population of 1.8 million. People have, however, been returning to their homes of origin as security improved following the stepping-up of military operations against the LRA and the ongoing peace talks in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.

By end-June 2007, it was estimated that 916,000 people remained in camps, mainly in the Acholi sub-region, while 539,000 had returned their villages. About 381,000 people had moved to new transit settlements near their villages, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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