News 2008

 

Kenyan refugees in Uganda OCHA Situation Report No. 8



United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/OCHA

15 Feb 2008



The information contained in this report has been gathered by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from sources including the Government of Uganda, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

HIGHLIGHTS

.. 1,787 REFUGEES HAVE REGISTERED AT MULANDA TRANSIT CENTRE

.. WFP AND UNHCR REPORT IMPACT FROM KENYA CRISIS ON OPERATIONS IN UGANDA AND REGION

Situation Overview

1. Over the past week, the situation in Kenya has remained calmed, albeit tense. On 14 February, media reported that the Government and opposition, under the mediation effort led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, had agreed to write a new constitution within one year, as well as a widerange of other issues. The mediation, which had continued at a secret location for most of the week, has now suspended until 18 February.

2. Since the outbreak of the violence in the wake of the 27 December 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, more than 1,000 people have been killed and some 600,000 have been displaced, according to the Kenyan Red Cross Society. At least 12,000 of the displaced have crossed into Uganda, according to the Government of Uganda.

3. The Government of Kenya dispatched the Minister for Special Programmes to visit the refugees at the Mulanda transit site. The Minister was accompanied on her 11 February visit by the Kenyan High Commissioner to Uganda. During their meeting with refugee leaders and camp residents, the delegation encouraged the Kenyans to return home, but most refugees have expressed that the situation in Kenya did not warrant a return at this juncture.

4. On 13 February, a delegation of Uganda Members of Parliament (MPs), led by the Tororo MP, visited the transit centre. They promised to present concerns raised during the visit to the Parliament in order to mobilize additional support and assistance.

5. New arrivals continue to be registered at the various border points, including at Tororo (Malaba), Manafwa and Busia districts. In recent days, the Border Internal Security Officer (BISO) has confirmed that the group of internally displaced Kenyans that had been sheltering at the Busia (Kenya) police station have begun to make their way into Uganda, after several weeks of limited humanitarian assistance.

6. Most Kenyans in Uganda remain in host communities, living with family or friends or on their own resources. In addition to the continued tense atmosphere in Kenya in the wait for the results of the Annan-led mediation, the continued closure of Kenyan IDP camps has been cited as a cause for the increase in new arrivals into Uganda.

7. Assistance for the refugees continues to be centralized at the Mulanda transit site, where 1,787 refugees had registered as of 14 February. Approximately 45 per cent of the registered refugees are children. The transit centre is managed by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR and Tororo District Authorities, in partnership with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), with the support of other humanitarian agencies.

8. The Transit Centre was established to offer a more secure environment for the provision of humanitarian aid to the refugees in the short term. In the longer term, the refugees will be offered the possibility of being relocated to existing refugee settlements in western Uganda, although the exact timeline for the transfer has yet to be clarified.

9. The NGO Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) has undertaken a five-day assessment at Mulanda (11 to 15 February), at the request of the UNHCR. The organization’s initial findings indicate that the refugees have expressed anxiety and uncertainty over the planned relocation to refugee settlements further inland and want confirmation of the date and location for the transfer to the new site.

10. To enhance security, the refugees, in conjunction with Tororo District Authorities and the UNHCR, have agreed to issues travel passes to those temporarily leaving the Transit Centre. The refugees continue to enjoy freedom of movement, although they have been advised to avoid movements after 2000 hours.

11. From 8 to 10 February, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes was on mission in Kenya. During his mission, he met with various officials in the Government and opposition. Mr. Holmes visited the Northern Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Molo, as well as two IDP camps near Nairobi, in order to assess the humanitarian situation and speak directly to those displaced by the crisis.

Humanitarian Response

12. The following agencies continue to provide assistance at the Mulanda Transit Centre: UNHCR (lead agency for the response), URCS, Plan International, The Salvation Army, World Vision, WFP, UNICEF, Save the Children, TASO and TPO.

Food Security

13. The World Food Programme (WFP) conducted an assessment of food stocks at the transit site this week; food rations were distributed on behalf of WFP by the Red Cross on 11 and12 February.

14. Food shortages continue to be reported among host communities in Manafwa District, with a number of trading centres affected. The Salvation Army had distributed a one-month ration to 200 of 500 targeted host families, as well as to police guards at the Mulanda transit site. The rations included 24 kilogrammes (kg) of maize flour, 10 kg of beans, one kg of salt and three litres of oil per household. Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFIs)

15. All new entrants continue to receive NFI kits upon arrival at the transit centre.

16. The Salvation Army has agreed to continue providing charcoal at Mulanda for the next two weeks, in partnership with the URCS.

17. A group of Kenyan students from Busoga University in Uganda visited the Mulanda transit site on 14 February and donated four bales of second-hand clothes and five bags of maize for the refugees. Water, Sanitation and Health

18. The URCS has constructed an additional five pit latrines at Mulanda and is roofing all existing pit latrines.

19. The NGO World Vision has constructed two additional bathing shelters, with support from the refugees.

Education

20. The number of children registered for Save the Children’s education programme has risen to 360 (193 boys and 167 girls), while the early childhood development (ECD) daily attendance stands at 109 children (46 boys and 63 girls), up from 76 last week. 11 ECD and Safe Space facilitators have been trained and are working with the children.

21. Two additional classrooms have been secured to cater for the increased numbers. However, there is an urgent need for scholastic materials and school furniture.

Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS

22. Refugees’ access to health care at the Health Centre IV at Mulanda remains inadequate according to Save the Children. Refugees continue to be referred to the St. Anthony Hospital in Tororo 10 kilometres (km) away, with transport assisted by Plan International.

23. Six First Aid kits were procured and provided to the Safe Spaces by Save the Children.

24. The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) is providing medical and counselling services to HIV positive refugees, as well as a basic care package containing ordinary water vessels and water guards for 100 refugees. Five cartons of condoms have been distributed to camp peer educators.

Protection

25. TPO’s initial findings recommend the mainstreaming of psychosocial support and counselling into existing community-based structure and aid programmes, including the child protection, hygiene and sanitation, education and health committees already established.

26. The number of separated children has risen to 32, according to Save the Children. The emergency response team has compiled a matrix on the separated children to be shared with other agencies to facilitate the family tracing and reunification. A six-day training for Child Protection Committee members has also begun.

27. The UNHCR is running buses twice daily from the main border points to the Mulanda transit centre to provide transportation for any Kenyans wishing to transfer to the refugee site. UNHCR has provided atent for overnight shelter at the Malaba and Busia border points for refugees arriving after 1600 hours. However, no reception centre has been officially established in Busia district. Concerns have also been expressed that facilities available at the Malaba way station are inadequate to needs. There is no sanitation facility, no food stocks and no mattresses, only tarpaulins laid across the floor.

28. Beyond the immediate need to provide assistance for the refugees in Uganda, the continuing crisis in Kenya has had an impact on humanitarian operations in the country and region.

29. Across the board, agencies have been affected by higher fuel prices, with some moving to limit nonessential travel. Fuel shortages and elevated prices continue to be reported across Uganda, which has no strategic fuel reserve, although not to the levels reached during the first weeks of January. WFP notes that its own reserve is insufficient to supply field operations within Uganda and throughout the region, for which Uganda is the main hub for the strategic fleet. The agency has already taken action to double its fuel reserve to a three-month supply.

Regional Impact

28. Beyond the immediate need to provide assistance for the refugees in Uganda, the continuing crisis in Kenya has had an impact on humanitarian operations in the country and region.

29. Across the board, agencies have been affected by higher fuel prices, with some moving to limit nonessential travel. Fuel shortages and elevated prices continue to be reported across Uganda, which has no strategic fuel reserve, although not to the levels reached during the first weeks of January. WFP notes that its own reserve is insufficient to supply field operations within Uganda and throughout the region, for which Uganda is the main hub for the strategic fleet. The agency has already taken action to double its fuel reserve to a three-month supply.

30. WFP also notes that, while 50 per cent of Uganda supplies are procured locally, Mombasa is the strategic point of entry for much of the in-kind assistance received from major donors such as the United States, Japan and others. The agency is assessing alternate routes into the region, including via Lake Victoria and the port at Dar es Salaam, but these moves would have consequences on the cost of food delivery for relief operations in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, as well as Uganda. The most cost effective solution remains the Mombasa port.

31. Meanwhile, UNHCR notes that the Enyau Bridge, which was to be built in order to facilitate the repatriation of Sudanese refugees as part of the Development Assistance for Refugee Hosting Areas (DAR) programme in Adjumani District has been delayed. Steel for the bridge was originally purchased in Dubai and shipped to Kenya for forwarding. Following a period of several weeks in which it was stuck in Mombasa, the shipment has now been rerouted via Tanzania.

32. Furthermore, all returnees to South Sudan receive NFI packages, the contents of which are normally purchased in Kenya. Due to the instability, new suppliers are being looked for in Uganda, but if not found shortly, a delay in procurement will follow exhaustion of the current stock.

Coordination

33. The humanitarian community in Uganda has agreed jointly to support the Government’s response to the situation of the Kenyan refugees, with inter-agency operational coordination to be led by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, subsequent to the granting of prima facie status to the Kenyans in Uganda.

34. The draft contingency plan for hosting up to 50,000 Kenyan refugees was discussed by partners on 12 February.

35. All agencies working at Mulanda have agreed to submit weekly activity schedules to the camp managers to avoid operation overlap.

36. Weekly coordination meetings are held on Friday at 1800 hours in Tororo District with the participation of humanitarian agencies and District Authorities.

 

 

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