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IDP resettlement: Vulnerable people stuck in camps

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th July 2007 03:00 AM

SEATED at the entrance of her hut in Agweng internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp, Jane Sinyola, 68, looks puzzled; she does not know how her future will be. She is so desperate that she thinks everyone who goes to her hut is out to help her. Sinyola is among the 22,500 people formerly living i

SEATED at the entrance of her hut in Agweng internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp, Jane Sinyola, 68, looks puzzled; she does not know how her future will be. She is so desperate that she thinks everyone who goes to her hut is out to help her. Sinyola is among the 22,500 people formerly living i

By Aidah Nanyonjo

SEATED at the entrance of her hut in Agweng internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp, Jane Sinyola, 68, looks puzzled; she does not know how her future will be. She is so desperate that she thinks everyone who goes to her hut is out to help her.

Sinyola is among the 22,500 people formerly living in Agweng camp in Lira district. They fled to the camp due to the insecurity caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern Uganda.

Since the introduction of the resettlement programme by the Government last year, many IDPs have returned to their homes. However, Sinyola is still stuck in the camp because of her inability to construct a house when she goes back home.

She came to the camp when the rebels attacked Orit, her village, in 2002. She lost most of her relatives, including her five children, due to the insurgency.

According to a report by the Christian Children’s Fund, 92% of the population in Agweng camp has returned home. As a result, many huts and latrines have been left open, posing a health hazard.
The report says 5% of the people living in the camp are vulnerable.

Sinyola adopted a 10-year-old boy, who was once kidnapped by the LRA, but failed to trace his biological parents on return. The boy helps her with house chores.

In February, the World Food Programme stopped supplying food to the camp and since then, Sinyola has been depending on handouts from well-wishers.

Musa Ecweru, the state minister for disaster preparedness and refugees, says the resettlement programme is challenged by the overwhelming number of vulnerable people, especially the children and elderly, who cannot construct houses for themselves. There are others who have decided to stay in camps because they cannot trace their villages.

He says the ministry plans to put in place a programme to resettle the elderly and orphans.
“After resettling the able-bodied people, we shall draw up a programme for the extremely vulnerable individuals,” Ecweru said.
The minister was touring Lira, Pader, Gulu and Katakwi districts recently.
People who agree to return home are given resettlement kits. These include farm tools, seeds and iron sheets.

For the last 20 years, the Government and NGOs have been focusing on improving the livelihood of the displaced people in camps, but it has shifted to delivering services to the areas where the people are resettling.

“These people have been in the camps for more than 20 years. Their homes have turned into bushes, without roads, schools and hospitals. The unfriendly environment in their home villages has made some to have one leg in the camp and another in the villages,” Ecweru says.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has started a return-monitoring group to study the livelihoods of the returnees. The group comprises the local people, who are conversant with the local languages.

George Swimmer, the field officer in charge of security in Lira district, says the Police has been equipped with bicycles and phones to ease communication.

IDP resettlement: Vulnerable people stuck in camps

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