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Northern Uganda Disabled People Face Landlessness and Poverty

08 Feb 2011 14:08
Sarafino Acaye, a 54-year-old physically disabled man in Nwoya district, says he has been forced by his community to return to an abandoned IDP camp.



Acaye, a resident of Kulu Amuka Parish, has taken up residence in Anaka Internally Displaced People's Camp. He says he has no land on which to grow food and limited access to water.



Sarafino Acaye says that when the fighting between the Lord's Resistance Army and government soldiers abated four years ago, a family in Nwoya loaned him three hectares of land at their home in Got Apwoyo. They allowed him cultivate the land and to build a temporary home with the aid of his friends.



However shortly after that, the family returned and forced him off the property. He appealed to his friends and neighbors for help, but received no assistance.



Acaye says he had no choice but to move back to the IDP camp.



With humanitarian organizations drastically cutting their aid support to displaced families in northern Uganda, Acaye has no regular source of food or water. He says a house constructed for him by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 2008 collapsed and he sleeps under the stars in the cold.



Simon Ongom, chairperson of the Disabled Persons Union of Gulu, says Acaye's story is not unique. He estimates that about 20 percent of people with disabilities in the district have failed to resettle in the communities from which they were displaced.



Ongom says most people with disabilities are rejected by their families who see them as an unnecessary burden. He calls for strengthening of laws to protect these people from poverty and abuse.



The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda estimates that 46 percent of people with disabilities in the country are living in extreme poverty. The number rises in proportion in the rural areas.



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