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Offensive on Uganda's LRA strains aid agencies

Friday March 13 2009


JUBA, Friday

A joint Uganda, DR-Congo and Southern Sudan offensive against the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels has left 100,000 people depending on humanitarian aid, with the UN humanitarian agency seeking fresh funding, and warning that the situation may worsen.

“We have literally today submitted a request for funding,” Lise Grante, the deputy humanitarian coordinator for Southern Sudan told this Correspondent, adding that the operation requires at least US$6m.

The funding request has been made to the Central Emergency Response Fund.

The new appeal follows an interagency assessment that found conditions deteriorating in the areas affected by the Ugandan rebels above what the aid agencies had budgeted for humanitarian aid this year.

It comes a day after Anglican church leaders from Uganda, Sudan and Congo appealed for more humanitarian help rebel affected people, and, in a letter to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last weekend, delivered by Episcopal Church of Sudan Archbishop Wilson Deng, for more pressure on the rebels.


The church leaders also pleaded for more international assistance for the relief effort in supporting these displaced people – most of whom are now dependent on their and other churches.

Congo, Sudan and Uganda armies last year launched a joint offensive against the rebel group to dire consequences.

“The situation is dire,” Simon Kun, the Chairperson of the Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission told this Correspondent Friday.

The fallout of the offensive has gone beyond the scope budgeted for that specific activity.

UN Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian John Holmes last year came to Sudan to launch an appeal for over US$600 million for humanitarian activities for 2009.

“What was not included in this appeal was money for this,” Grante said. “Why? It is because we didn’t know this war was gonna happen.”

Some 100,000 people need help, according to a UN OCHA humanitarian update on the LRA.

Of these 36,029 are people who have been displaced within the region to places, such as Ezo, Tambura, Yambio, Maridi, Mundri, and Lasu, which are relatively peaceful.

Another 16,135 people in the area are Congolese refugees.

The figure also includes some 50,000 people living in the LRA-infested area, who now have to shelter other people.

“The conditions in this area, those humanitarian conditions, are deteriorating, and they are deteriorating quickly,” Grante had earlier told reporters Friday.

“The numbers are getting too big, the conditions are sliding.”

According to the humanitarian update food security and nutrition have deteriorated, and more than 350 cases of acute watery diarrhoea, 230 cases of dysentery, 1,650 cases of malaria and 25 cases of measles have been reported.

“The numbers are too big and that’s why we are applying to CERF,” Grante had earlier told Reporters in Juba.

“There have been serious unexpected consequences from the attack against the LRA,” Grante said.

The official said the humanitarian agencies didn’t anticipate the scope of the fallout.

“The situation may not improve in the near future,” she said.

According to the UN agency, the LRA is still active, and attacks against civilians continue.

“And they are getting worse,” Grante said.

According to the update existing health facilities are unable to respond to this level of need.

“We have a problem,” Grante said. “All of us are not doing a job as good as we should be.”