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WFP running out of funds to feed Northern Uganda

WFP today warned that its operation to feed more than 1.45 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Uganda will run out of donations in December.

WFP urgently needs US$58 million in cash donations to buy food locally to feed almost the entire population of northern Uganda, who have been living for years in 135 overcrowded and unsanitary camps after fleeing their homes for fear of attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“Ninety percent of the displaced in Uganda heavily depend on WFP food and nutritional assistance for their survival,” said Daly Belgasmi, Director of WFP’s Geneva liaison office on his return from a week-long visit to the country.

“This is a major operation to assist people whose livelihoods have been crushed by decades of a cruel conflict.”

Havoc

Without continued WFP support to the IDPs through mid 2006, malnutrition rates – particularly among children – would likely sky rocket
Ken Davies, WFP Country Director
WFP is one of the only providers of humanitarian aid in northern Uganda, where the 19-year conflict with the LRA has wreaked havoc on the lives of the population.

The IDPs live in extreme poverty with minimal access to the most basic needs, including food, clothing, medicine, and proper sanitation. Killings and abductions are common and there are reports of innocent people being disfigured, with lips and ears sliced off by the rebels.

Emergency threshold

A report from a recent health and mortality survey conducted by the Ministry of Health with technical support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) concluded that the death rates for hundreds of thousands of children displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda remain above the emergency threshold.

The survey, supported by WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA and International Rescue Committee (IRC), found that among the IDPs, 80 percent of whom are women and children, the estimated crude mortality rate and the under-five mortality rate were above one death per 10,000 per day and two deaths per 10,000 per day, respectively.

Most of the deaths were the result of malaria, HIV/AIDS and violence. Malnutrition, however, was not identified as a major cause of death – a clear indication of the effectiveness of WFP’s intervention.

Sky rocket

“Without continued WFP support to the IDPs through mid 2006, malnutrition rates – particularly among children – would likely sky rocket,” explained WFP Country Director, Ken Davies.

“WFP, in collaboration with the Government and NGOs, is doing all it can to ensure that the nutritional needs of the displaced continue to be met but additional funding from the international community is imperative if we are going to be able to maintain this positive trend.”

Lull

A recent lull in LRA atrocities has allowed people in the camps greater access to the surrounding fertile land during the current planting season.

With the prospects of a slightly better harvest, WFP plans from December to reduce the general food ration to 50 percent of the minimum kilocalories that each individual requires daily.

The IDPs, however, will still face the challenge of growing or buying the remaining 50 percent of their food until at least the July 2006 harvest.