URCS scale of humanitarian refugee task in northern Uganda, Bidi-bidi Camp

URCS scale of humanitarian refugee task in northern Uganda, Bidi-bidi Camp

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Sharing messages about good hygien A swathe of countryside in the north of Uganda is gradually turning into a vast refugee camp as hundreds of people every day – as many as 3,500 in a single 24-hour period – cross the border from South Sudan after renewed conflict there. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on 29 August launched an emergency appeal for nearly US$700,000 to support the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) in assisting 40,000 refugees over the next six months with safe water and sanitation, hygiene measures, emergency shelter, and health.

“The vast majority of people crossing into Uganda from South Sudan are women and children or people with special needs, such as the elderly and those with complex health issues,” said Andreas Sandin, IFRC operations coordinator for the region.

“After having travelled more than 400 kilometres from Juba, they arrive exhausted, hungry, and in need of shelter. With more families arriving daily, we need to ramp up our activities quickly.” Says Moses Alatawa, URCS Operations coordinator in Bidi-bidi refugee camp.

Up to 3,500 new arrivals a day are now being processed at the Bidibidi reception centre, in Yumbe district, more than 300 km north of the capital, Kampala, but not much more than walking distance from the border with South Sudan, where fighting has erupted between groups loyal to the president or vice-president. Uganda Red Cross volunteers are assisting with the registration of new arrivals, who come in on UNHCR buses and then disperse into the surrounding countryside, here seen from the air for the first time; the volunteers are also operating a bulk drinking-water plant and working to raise awareness of the crucial importance of hygiene and sanitation which is crucial in promoting good health for the refugees.
“It would not take much for a cholera outbreak to run rampant through the camp or extend into host communities.” said Dr Adinoyi Adeiza, IFRC health coordinator.

URCS volunteers say the headcount of people who have passed through the Bidibidi centre to date is 57,900. In late July, the URCS noted that its volunteers in the northern Uganda then were “working around the clock to support those in need, evacuating the injured, offering first aid to the wounded, and referring many others to nearby hospitals.

“In partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, Office of the Prime Minister, URCS has been [helping register] new arrivals, transferring people from transit centres to settlement camps, preparing meals, supporting medical teams to vaccinate children for polio and measles, as well as carrying out tracing services...”

UNHCR estimated earlier this month that more than 100,000 people have fled South Sudan since fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, in early July. The World Food Programme meanwhile, is implementing an emergency operation to assist up to 80,000 South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.

“The appeal launched by IFRC will support URCS to address issues related to inadequate supply of water, limited access to health facilities as well as curb down out breaks of diarrheal diseases. We shall also support refugees set up shelters as way of giving them a decent life” says Gracious Kyagaba, the WASH Coordinator URCS – Camp operations.

URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org

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