Uganda: missionary reports town overwhelmed with refugees

 The small town of Lira, in northern Uganda, is becoming a massive refugee camp, the Missionary News Service reported today. While crises elsewhere in Africa are hitting the headlines, Comboni Father Sebhatleab, who runs the Lira diocese radio station told MISNA the situation is becoming increasingly desperate in Lira. In a short time the town's population has increased from 30,000 to around 150,000. "The presence of the rebels of Joseph Kony terrorize our poor people who are forced to come to us to escape death" said Fr Sebhatleab, originally from Eritrean. Displaced people are camped all over the town, he said. In the run-down railway station, there are several thousand, with more arriving each day. The missionary said he had met several women from Aliwang, a Catholic mission 70km from Lira, whose children had been abducted. Fr Sebhatleab, said: "There is an humanitarian emergency here in Lira: food, blankets and medicines are desperately needed. The people would like to return to work in the fields. But the fear of ending up in the hands of the rebels is too strong". He said the children suffer the most, as they are often forced to spend the night out in the cold. The rains have increased cases of malaria and typhoid fever. Lira, 300 km north of Kampala, is the administrative capital of Lira district. It is mainly inhabited by the peaceful 'Lango' people. The town has insecure buildings, straw huts with poor roofs, and a market. The centre, where the Catholic cathedral is located, is concentrated around one main street. On the right and on the left, along the pavements, there are shops that once belonged to the Indian tradesmen, expelled from the country in the 70's by the infamous dictator Idi Amin. The rebels of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) , who are terrorising the country, are believed to be funded by the Sudanese government. They come mainly from the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. Source: MISNA

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