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23 January 2009

Uganda and Burundi have put two battalions on standby to send to war-torn Somalia to fill the gap left by withdrawing Ethiopian troops, a Ugandan army spokesman said Friday. "There is no time framework under which we will send our soldiers there," Major Felix Kulayigye told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "We have a battalion ready, and it is just a matter of waiting for the logistics and then we will go." Ethiopia is pulling its forces out of Somalia after a two-year occupation that has failed to defeat Islamist forces, reported dpa. [...] The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday that it might have to stop distributing food in Somalia if the safety of its staff cannot be guaranteed. Two WFP aid workers were shot in early January, adding to another five killed last year.


22 January 2009

A joint operation by the Government and the World Food Programme to avert famine in Karamoja and the neighbouring districts is underway, the state minister for disaster preparedness has announced. Musa Ecweru said the operation would cost about $64m to provide relief assistance to about 970,000 people in need of food. Addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala on Friday, Ecweru said the operation would last up to October when the first harvests are expected in the region. [...] “Acute malnutrition is close to emergency levels and we have 10 months to go until the next harvest,” said Ecweru. He said the operation would be carried out in liaison with the local governments in the affected areas. The WFP country representative, Stanlake Samkange, said the operation was also aimed at ensuring that similar food crises do not occur in the future. “That is why we need to place emphasis on medium and longer term solutions to hunger. We want people in Karamoja to become net producers, so that we can actually buy food from them for emergencies elsewhere in future,” said Samkange.


16 January 2009

The Ugandan government and the UN World Food Program (WFP) on Friday announced that the northeastern part of the country is facing an acute food crisis that is likely to slip into famine if no urgent action is taken. Musa Ecweru, minister of state for disaster preparedness and relief, told reporters here that the situation is severe following massive crop failure and warned that the acute malnutrition levels are close to emergency. "When you reach Karamoja (northeastern region) you will see cases of malnutrition, the elderly are in dire need of support," he said flanked by Stanlake Samkange, WFP country director.


12 January 2009

THE World Food Programme (WFP) has began buying food directly from small-holding farmers in Uganda to boost opportunities for poverty eradication. The UN food agency said in a statement yesterday that it bought $53m worth of food locally last year for recipients in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DR Congo. The statement said the agency plans to increase the purchases to more than $100m annually in three years. The country director, Stanlake Samkange, said WFP recently started buying food through the warehouse receipt system to increase direct assistance to small-scale farmers and support the Government poverty eradication efforts. “Buying food directly from small-scale farmers, especially at high prices, helps further by improving the quality of life for the poorest people,” Samkange said in the statement.