Donor fatigue threatens Uganda war victims

More than 1,6-million people driven from their homes during Uganda’s 18-year civil war risk losing their main source of food as international donors grow weary of the conflict, a United Nations food agency official said on Friday.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has shipped tons of food to northern Uganda for years, but fund-raising from wealthy nations to pay for the programme has fallen $33-million short, said Edward Kallon, the WFP’s deputy country director for Uganda.

“If a solution to the war is not found, there will be a general fatigue,” Kallon said. “It is not easy to feed 1,6-million people.”

Kallon said the conditions in the makeshift camps, where most of the displaced people live, are appalling.

“The food situation is serious. First, people have not planted enough food in the last season, second, 90% of the population lives in the camps, so they did not [plant],” Kallon said.
“I can see a fatigue coming up among the donors.”

While President Yoweri Museveni has offered to hold talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army, a shadowy group best known for pillaging villages and kidnapping children, his government has also proposed increasing the army’s budget by $32-million next year, a defence official said.

The total defence budget for 2004/05 would then be $195-million.

“The Cabinet passed this budget and guaranteed it. We need much more money than this for additional equipment and infrastructure for the army, but this was given fort he coming financial year,” said Ruth Nankabirwa, the Deputy Defence Minister.

An army spokesperson said the money would be spent on a new infantry battalion and civil defence forces in northern Uganda.—Sapa-AP

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