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News note

UNICEF expresses concern about escalating violence in North Eastern Uganda

UN children’s agency warns that violence may have lasting impact on lives of most vulnerable

KAMPALA, 29 November 2006 – UNICEF in Uganda, in view of the continued violence linked to the ongoing process of disarmament in areas of northern Kotido District, expresses its serious concern about the impact of escalating insecurity on the lives of children and families in those locations.  UNICEF and its partners urge national and local authorities to undertake all measures required to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable members of the civilian population, including children and women.

Furthermore, UNICEF reiterates the position expressed by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, in his 10 November 2006 statement, of urging restraint of all arms carriers in relation to the ongoing process of disarmament in order to avoid further escalation of insecurity and to minimise the impact on innocent civilians, especially on the lives of children and families.

The latest reports from UN staff in the area confirm that 13 women and nine children have died in connection with the ongoing disarmament operations within the past month, and that the presence of unexploded ordnance as a result of bombardments poses an additional risk to children and families.

UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Martin Mogwanja, said that sustained exposure of children to violence could have both short- and long-term effects.  “In addition to the immediate threat of bodily harm and death, violence can exert a cumulative toll on entire communities.  Violence can keep children out of school and rob them of the chance to fulfill their potential.  Multiplied many times over, violence robs the community of its potential for development,” he said.

“The protection of children and women is a universal imperative and a responsibility not only of the Government, in accordance with its international human rights obligations and national policy, but also the responsibility of every stakeholder and every community member in the Karamoja sub-region,” he said.

In response to the current situation, UNICEF, through CARITAS and the Church of Uganda and in coordination with district authorities, has provided emergency humanitarian support in the form of non-food items and first-aid kits to displaced persons in Kotido District.  To date, 314 Family Kits (each containing two blankets, one tarpaulin, one ten-litre jerrycan, one bucket, two bars of soap, two saucepans, five plates, five cups, one kitchen knife and two spoons) and a Health Centre emergency kit have been delivered to provide relief to approximately 1,500 people.  In addition, UNICEF has supported OXFAM to provide emergency water and sanitation services to the affected population.  The delivery of assistance is being facilitated by the newly opened UNICEF Moroto Zonal Office.

“There must be a redoubling of efforts to enable all children and women in Uganda to have unhindered access to protection, as well as health, education, safe water, shelter and other essential services,” added Mogwanja.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, Communication Officer, UNICEF-Uganda: Tel + 256 41 234 591/2; chyun@unicef.org




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