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Uganda: Need to focus on returnees and remaining IDPs in transition to development

Since the 2006 signing of a cease-fire agreement between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army there has been significant return of those displaced by conflict in northern Uganda. The overwhelming majority of the 1.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) who lived in camps at the height of the crisis have returned to their areas of origin or resettled in new locations. Driven by their cultural ties to the land and the region, most have opted for return. The majority of the 30,000 still confined to camps lack financial resources to move home, are aged, disabled or unwell or have no land to return to. Support for recovery and development in areas to which IDPs have returned has been insufficient. Returnees have faced continuing difficulties due to inadequate basic services and limited support to rebuild their livelihoods. The return process has been marred by land conflicts, sometimes leading to violence.

Uganda has forged policies to respond to internal displacement and foster durable solutions. The government’s Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda sets out a comprehensive approach to support reconstruction and IDP return. In practice however, this, and other ambitious recovery and development programmes in northern Uganda, have suffered protracted delays. Considerable resources have been invested but positive impacts to enable IDPs to find durable solutions remain limited.

Now that international humanitarian agencies have scaled down their activities development actors must focus efforts on ensuring that remaining IDPs and returnees are helped to pursue durable solutions.

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