Westward, ho

Posted: February 9, 2008 in Blog

Off to western Uganda at the Congo border tomorrow for about a week to do some reporting. I doubt I’ll have much in the way of ‘net access during that time so things’ll likely be dark here through next weekend. In the meantime, here are some articles that have been published recently in the Daily Monitor. Have a great week, all.

An article about how an area in eastern Uganda is recovering from severe flooding there last Fall:

An article about Ugandan President Museveni’s trip to Kenya to try to negotiate an end to the crisis there:

A piece about the Kenyan refugee camps at the Uganda side of the Kenya-Uganda border:

And here’s one that ran in early February that I can’t find a link to online:

CHRISTOPHER MASON

KAMPALA

Amid reports of hundreds of thousands left out of the post-conflict
resettlement process, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster
Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru has agreed to be taken on a tour
of urban sites where displaced northerners are reportedly living.

“Government is committed to supporting all IDPs, whether they are
rural or urban,” Mr Ecweru said recently at a seminar on urban IDPs
hosted by the Refugee Law Project (RLP), where he agreed to the tour.

The issue of urban IDPs, and their place in the resettlement process,
has gained prominence in recent months as more and more camps in the
north are evacuated thanks to the negotiated peace with the Lord’s
Resistance Army.

As those in camps begin going home, with support from the government
and humanitarian agencies, some observers, namely the RLP, are
questioning why similar support has not been granted to those who fled
to urban areas rather than IDP camps.

“Urban IDPs, just like their rural counterparts, are vulnerable,” said
Chris Dolan, director of the RLP.

A report issued last month by the group suggested there are between
300,000 and 600,000 urban IDPs scattered throughout Kampala and other
towns, like Jinja. That number has been disputed by the government and
the United Nations, leading the RLP to ask for help in assessing the
situation.

The humanitarian community has been heavily involved in the
resettlement process from the camps, but has so far taken a hands-off
approach to the issue of urban IDPs.

“These people are Ugandan and should be protected by the Ugandan
government and nobody else,” said Bayisa Wakwaya, deputy
representative (protection) for the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees. “For the IDPs, no one has a mandate except the Ugandan
government.”

Mr Ecweru told the seminar’s audience that urban IDPs are part of the
post-conflict recovery plan, and that any urban IDP should register
with local authorities who are charged with ensuring support is in
place.

But he added that the government has asked UNHCR to expand its mandate
so it can have a larger role in the IDP issue. Typically, UNHCR has a
mandate to assist only refugees. Those displaced within the borders of
their own country are not normally part of the agency’s work, but a
special provision had been put in place because of the scale of IDPs
in Uganda.

That expanded mandate does not currently extend to those living outside camps.

RLP’s head of research and advocacy, Moses Okello, said the gap
between the humanitarian community and government on the issue of
urban IDPs is preventing aid from reaching those who have been
displaced by conflict to urban areas.

“The humanitarian community is gullible for seeing a government policy
written on paper and saying that’s enough even though nothing is being
done,” Okello said Thursday. “The government comes up with rosy
policies but really does nothing.”

In December, Daily Monitor visited one of several urban areas known to
be home to urban IDPs. In Banda, on the eastern edge of Kampala, an
estimated 10,000 displaced northerners have set up semi-permanent
dwellings. Many work in a nearby stone quarry for about Shs 1,000 a
day. During the visit in December, girls as young as 11 years old were
found working in the quarry.

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Comments
  1. […] Lastly, an article from early December following a seminar on the urban IDP issue.  (Can’t find the article online, so I have linked to a posting from this site put earlier in February). […]

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