800,000 Struggling in Ugandan Refugee Camps

Food Supplies May Run Out Next Month, Warns Archbishop of Gulu

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GULU, Uganda, FEB. 16, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- Hundreds of thousands of Ugandans are in dire straits trying to survive in refugee camps — in their own country.

«People are desperate, the world must intervene,» said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu.

«Some 800,000 people have been made homeless because of attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in three districts of the diocese,» he told the Fides agency. «Considering that the entire population of the diocese is 1.2 million you realize the size of the problem.» «For 10 years these rebel troops have dominated the zone, but it has been only in the last 12 months that the level of insecurity became so high as to force people to abandon their homes,» the bishop said.

«I am very concerned about their situation because food supplies are running out» in the northern camps, he added. «I have spoken with aid workers and they say that by March there will be no more food to distribute.»

«The people also lack clean water,» Archbishop Odama said. «Wells around the campsite are dry because of drought and other water holes are far away in dangerous combat areas. I am also worried about the children, the first to suffer when food is scarce. I renew my call for immediate adequate supplies of food and medicine to meet the needs in this crisis.

«The local Church is fully committed to providing assistance to the camp dwellers. Caritas is very active, especially among children kidnapped by the rebels and then released. So far we have found 600 children, 200 of them are housed in Caritas structures, 400 were reunited with their families.»

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