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UNHCR and WFP Introduce Programs for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will contribute $8.3 million towards the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda. The local press quoted UNHCR country representative, Cynthia Burns, as saying the money would primarily be used for the repair of primary and secondary roads that fell into disuse during the 20-year Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.The fund will also be used to provide health services and water.

Burns said restoring the roads would enable and encourage IDPs to access villages that have been neglected for years.

“We have launched an appeal for $8.3 million and we expect to be fully funded by the end of 2006. Our focus is on helping as many people return home as possible. Then we will see how we can transform the IDP camps into viable communities," she said. Meanwhile, the World Food Program (WFP) has also unveiled new plans to help resettle IDPs in their villages. The head of the WFP’s northern bureau, Richard Bazu, explained the new activities and what they hope to achieve.

“As I talk now World Food Program, has phased out 171,000 IDPs from food rations, following the improvement in the security situation. Many more people are leaving the camps and going home. This category of people has been given three months of food rations,” he said.

One program the WFP recently began is “Food for Assets,” which aims to encourage Internally Displaced Persons in northern Uganda to start small-scale business ventures. Under the program, IDPs will support community development projects like building new roads and fish-ponds in exchange for food items.

The head of the WFP office in Lira, Gilbert Buzu, explains that the IDPs will be allowed to identify their major food needs and will determine how much food will be given in return for labor. He says the WFP hopes that approximately 60 fish-ponds and major roads will be constructed through the effort.

“Under the WFP’s ‘Food for Assets’ program, communities are using food to dig these fish ponds, just to explain food for assets, these are people who are mobilized, they identify their needs; after identifying them we give them food as motivation to dig these ponds,” he says.

Buzu says his agency is collaborating with the UNHCR to provide work tools to the “Food for Asset” program. Food items supplied in exchange for the labor include maize meal, beans, peas and cooking oil.

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