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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 12:30 GMT
Ugandan children face hunger
Refugees in camps in northern Uganda
Food aid is desperately need

The United Nations World Food Programme has said that malnutrition has reached a critical stage for almost a third of the children in two refugee camps in northern Uganda.

WFP surveys showed thousands of children under five were severely malnourished, in the camps of Anaka and Pabbo.

A system to provide supplementary rations had to be set up immediately, WFP said.

Nearly one million people live in 60 crowded and impoverished camps in northern Uganda after fleeing fighting between the government and rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army.

The WFP also welcomed the ceasefire announced by the rebels this week, saying it would ease the supply problem in areas previously deemed too dangerous to visit.

Last October, the WFP, the sole provider of relief aid in the region, warned that unless donors make contributions urgently, the population would face unprecedented hunger.

Food aid

It appealed for 18,000 tonnes of food, saying that the people were already suffering horribly from the fighting and that the destruction of their crops was having a terrible effect on their nutritional conditions.

The LRA rebels last week announced a ceasefire to end 16 years of fighting.

Uganda army tank
The army offensive continues, despite the LRA announcement

Lieutenant General Salim Saleh, who is on the presidential peace team, welcomed the move and said he will soon hold face to face talks with the rebels.

Tens of thousands of young Ugandans have been abducted by the rebels since they launched their war to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni.

Last year, the Ugandan Government launched a major military offensive called "Operation Iron Fist" led by Mr Museveni in a bid to crush the LRA.

Uganda welcomes rebel truce
04 Mar 03 |  Africa
Ugandan rebels kidnap children
28 Feb 03 |  Africa
Surviving Uganda's rebellion
02 Dec 02 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
11 Jan 03 |  Country profiles

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