Uganda Officials Urge WFP To Continue Support for HIV-Positive Displaced People
Ugandan government officials and HIV/AIDS advocates are concerned that cutbacks in the World Food Program's aid initiatives to internally displaced people living with HIV in the country will make it difficult to meet the needs of the large number of people who are leaving resettlement camps, IRIN/PlusNews reports. WFP in 2008 announced that a funding shortfall forced the organization to reduce its Ugandan food programs, phasing out general food distribution in the north. Bai Mankay Sankoh, head of WFP's Gulu office, said the organization "shall only be providing food support to those HIV-positive IDPs who are extremely sick or those whose health condition has relapsed, based on evidence from health workers." According to IRIN/PlusNews, IDPs are being encouraged to leave the camps as a two-year lapse in hostilities between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army has led to an ongoing peace process. Local officials say that about 40% of the country's nearly one million IDPs have relocated to camps closer to their home villages.
Although most people have been able to resume productive agriculture on their farms, local government officials and advocates said they are concerned that many HIV-positive individuals will not receive adequate nutrition without the WFP programs, IRIN/PlusNews reports. According to local nongovernmental organizations, many HIV-positive IDPs have to travel for days to receive their monthly supply of antiretroviral treatments and are unable to travel without adequate food. Government officials are urging WFP to continue to provide food aid to the most vulnerable groups. Sankoh said that despite the cuts to general food support programs, the agency will continue to provide livelihood support to people living with HIV in an effort to promote self-sufficiency. He said the agency intends to support 300 HIV-positive households that are living in IDP camps in Gulu and Amuru. The households will receive 240 pigs, 300 goats and 30 beehives annually "for at least some years to come," Sankoh said, adding that the support programs will put the households "in a position to take care of their families and themselves" (IRIN/PlusNews, 4/21).