With the security situation improving in Northern Uganda, UN-HABITAT is working with thousands of homeward-bound Internally Displaced Persons to clean up the camps in which they sought refuge for years from insurgents of a movement called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) .
UN-HABITAT, in partnership with German NGO, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), has started to phase out camps in the town of Barr as part of a wider closure campaign funded by USAID in collaboration with UNHCR and Christian Children’s Fund (CCF).
In Lira district, where Barr is situated, there are around 12 camps, and each home to many thousands of people. In Barr alone, more than 32,000 people had set up camp, while neighbouring Ogur the figure was over 42,000. They had fled their homes in 2003 to escape insurgents of the LRA which has wreaked havoc on the lives of civilians in northern Uganda for nearly two decades, killing many thousands. Many LRA members, abducted as children, are forced to fight or used as sex slaves in one of East Africa’s bloodiest conflicts.
With the security situation easing in some parts of northern Uganda, people are anxious to move back to their places of origin.
UN-HABITAT interventions in northern Uganda were initiated in September 2006 when an expert conducted a two-month survey in the region. The key objective of UN-HABITAT interventions is to work with the Government of Uganda, UN and other support agencies and communities in coordinating and providing technical assistance to respond to the housing, land and property needs of internally displaced persons and conflict-affected communities.
In Lira, for example, about 90 percent of those who fled there have returned home. However, what they have left behind with the host community is an ghost camp with open pit latrines, abandoned homes, rubbish dumps and lands degraded by high population pressure.
UN-HABITAT teamed up with humanitarian and early recovery partners in Northern Uganda to facilitate the process of shutting down the IDP camps and restoring sustainable management of land in host communities. The idea is to ensure that camps now emptying are properly phased out by ensuring their residents join in tree planting and clean-up activities. Those doing the work are paid and provided with hoes, boots, gloves, spades and other tools.
UN-HABITAT interventions in northern Uganda were initiated in September 2006 through the deployment of an expert specialized in housing, land and property rights to conduct a two-month survey in the region. The key objective of UN-HABITAT interventions is to work with the Government of Uganda, UN and other support agencies and communities in coordinating and providing technical assistance to respond to the housing, land and property needs of internally displaced persons and conflict-affected communities. The work involves ensuring sustainable planning and management for the return, reintegration and recovery process, both in the places of origin, as well as in the camps people are leaving.
Another specialist followed up on the findings to begin implementation on the ground. As of today, UN-HABITAT office has been established in Lira and a Senior National Officer has been recruited. The UN-HABITAT office is based within the premises of UN Development Propgramme.
UN-HABITAT project development
- Homes for civil servants:
In collaboration with partners (UNICEF, WFP, Government of Uganda and Makerere University), UN-HABITAT will help build 200-400 homes for civil servants (health workers and teachers). This is to be initiated in July 2007.
- Cleaning up:
Apart from the first camp phase out in Barr, projects are still in the planning and discussion stage with potential partners such as government, WFP, UNHCR and international NGOs.