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Archive for the tag “Bidibidi”

OPM Refugee Scandal: Reloaded!

You would think that the Office of the Prime Minister, who is in-charge of the Refugees in Uganda, would trade the waters carefully, after the last year scandal of thousands upon thousands of ghost refugees. Which the OPM and the state was cashing in on. No, no, no, they are having yet another scheme, as the government are planning to misuse the refugee crisis in the neighbour countries to their advantage. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) have no trouble doing so.

The Prime Minister Dr. Rugunda Ruhakana has clearly not lost the touch of deception or lying to the International Community for a buck. Here is yet another scheme made up to make the numbers sky-rocket!

More than 1000 Ugandans living in areas neighbouring Kyangwali refugee settlement were forced to attain refugee status in order to retain ‘ownership’ of their land. The scheme was reportedly crafted by Charles Bafaki, the principal resettlement officer in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Jolly Kebirungi, the camp commandant Kyangwali refugee settlement area, in the newly created Kikuube district and Lutaaya Vianney from ministry of Lands” (URN – ‘OPM forced Ugandans to register as refugees in Kyangwali’ 02.01.2019, link:https://observer.ug/news/headlines/59562-opm-officials-forced-ugandans-to-register-as-refugees-in-kyangwali).

With this in mind, the government are putting lives in jeopardy, making the citizens play as refugees, and not being citizens themselves. Supposed to seek refugee in a camp instead of living their ordinary life. This in a way to get higher numbers of refugees and more need of aid to take care of them. If this isn’t misusing resources and also reckless behaviour against own citizens. Nothing is. This is what Steady Progress means in the NRM land.

The OPM are already known for inflating numbers, but now they cheating also by making Ugandan citizens into refugees. That is really ensuring the UNHCR and all agencies for fools. As the GoU and OPM have no trouble risking their own citizens as pawns in a scheme to secure funding. While, also using this scheme to scare locals of losing their land, if they didn’t play along. That is how far they take it.

No mercy, no problems ensuring suffering for people, as long as the OPM secures more funds to itself. Peace.

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Joint Local Statement on the Uganda refugees’ response (14.12.2018)

UNHCR statement on the refugee response programme in Uganda (30.11.2018)

The UN Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS) audit report into UNHCR’s Uganda operation, released this week, contains findings that show clear gaps and weaknesses in risk management in a number of areas during the period between July 2016 and December 2017. The audit followed the massive influx of refugees from South Sudan in 2016 – mid 2017, when UNHCR’s staffing capacity in key functions and in remote locations was very low, followed by a rapidly expanded operation in the second half of 2017 with many new staff and partners.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is in the business of saving lives and protecting people. Maintaining the trust and confidence of our donors and of the general public is of utmost importance to us. A number of internal reviews and technical oversight missions had identified risky areas in the operation during 2017. UNHCR worked closely with the OIOS auditors, who came to Uganda in February 2017, identifying issues and providing information that was used in the audit. We have accepted the recommendations of the OIOS auditors and have been working to address them well before this report was issued on 27 November, including in conjunction with Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister.

Underscoring the urgency with which UNHCR was seized with these issues, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited Kampala in January 2018 to assess the complex challenges being faced in the refugee response and meet with the government at the highest level. Amongst other measures introduced, he agreed with the Prime Minister to launch the verification exercise into refugee registration data just completed. He also upgraded the leadership of the UNHCR operation to manage these challenges. Various corrective measures have been put in place, supported by a plan for ongoing and future actions. There is continuous follow-up.

Measures we have taken to date include revising or redesigning and rolling out new Standard Operating Procedures for the reception of refugees, their registration, protection, assistance (food, non-food items – core relief supplies) and case management. The complaints and feedback mechanisms for refugees have been strengthened with a new inter-agency call-centre. We have also strengthened staffing in key operations functions, in particular with regard to reinforced capacities in oversight and management. These include the establishment of a senior post in risk management and compliance. Monitoring and reporting functions have additionally been reviewed, revised and enhanced.

In regard to road construction, an investigation is ongoing and we are pursuing a full recovery of funds from any project partners of concern. Allowances paid to civil servants are verified through attendance records and payment to individual bank accounts with overall responsibility lying with the government.

To address concerns about the accuracy of registration data, a countrywide biometric verification exercise of the refugee and asylum-seeker population was conducted between March and October 2018. The Government of Uganda is now committed to using the appropriate tools for continuous registration, which is their responsibility, and to ensuring the integrity of the registration process. The strengthened registration and case management systems will improve service and assistance delivery, including distribution of food. UNHCR is working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister in the roll-out of these new systems and jointly addressing obstacles that emerge in their practical application at field level.

UNHCR has also closely reviewed its monitoring of water delivery trucking in remote refugee settlements. We are doing top-to-bottom reviews of contracts, invoices and delivery verification before proceeding with any payments. Significant progress has been made in reducing water trucking, which is expensive, from 37 per cent in May 2017 to 7 per cent over the course of the year, following completion of several water schemes in Rhino, Imvepi and Palorinya refugee settlements in northern Uganda. With the new measures in place, we expect a further reduction to 5 per cent in December 2018.

The audit recommendations vis-à-vis partnership management, performance monitoring, procurement procedures, non-food item distribution and warehouse management are being addressed and toughened measures have been put in place, including with partner organizations and the Office of the Prime Minister, where these activities are jointly implemented. Progress will be reviewed regularly.

UNHCR has additionally established a high-level dialogue with the Office of the Prime Minister and other government authorities on the audit findings, including regarding recovery of funds as may be needed. Fuel cards and vehicle tracking have been introduced for implementation in 2019. A task force has been set up to review projects implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister. A preliminary report is due in mid-December.

UNHCR is determined to ensure the full integrity of the refugee response in Uganda and is addressing all issues identified in the audit report.

Opinion: The sad realities of the Ugandan involvement in South Sudan!

Today, it was two vital reports that came out on the subject. Both was how the National Resistance Movement, the NRM and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his government have been involved in the South Sudan civil war. For me this wasn’t shocking or really news. The reports locally has been there.

That the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) have supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) with arms, guns and weapons training. Even in the midst of an United Nations Embargo. Which wasn’t long ago, that the Uganda President promised to continue to supply the South Sudanese counterparts. However, none of that has gotten as a MEMO to the Western partners of Ugandan war-machine. Who has continued to supply them with arms and later on been traded to third parties in South Sudan.

While the guns and arms been flowing, the refugees has seek shelter and relief in Northern Uganda. As the same Western partners has donated funds as the massive refugee flow from across the border. As they are fleeing the conflict and civil war. The same Ugandan government, to trick the numbers and schemes to fund various operations of the state, even buy an expensive plot for a parking lot for the Office of the Prime Minister, has used them. This is the sort of activity happens from the government, who supply arms to the conflict, they are asking the same foreign donors to help with trouble it creates.

The UNCHR has spent a total of $129,9m in 2016 and $210m in 2017 on the Refugee operation in Uganda. This while the Ugandan authorities has ballooned the numbers and added over 300,000 refugees, which was ghosts. Therefore, the UNHCR and OPM had to after the scandal have a registration and verification drive, which also cost the UN Agency money. For instance, the OPM claimed to pay for 72 civil servants working on UNHCR projects and paying them salaries, but there was no clear documentation if they really existed or had a job. There was also procurement done without prior authorization or documents going up to about $34,4m, which was not approved off or cleared by the UNHCR.

When you combine these reports, show how blatant disregard the Ugandan government have, how they are both the mediator, the arms supplier and the refugee relief. While getting both the value for money for the arms, they are getting benefit on the refugees and they are supplying high-ranking government officials because of it. You can clearly get the gist of the operation.

The Ugandan government have been earning and using the conflict to gain monetary gains, in each side of the bargain. By circumventing the arms-embargo, while being a mediator and official “peace-maker” and hosting the refugees from the same conflict. That is really staggering, when your combining all the efforts and tricks done, to get another buck. Earning fortunes on others misfortune. Peace.

OPM – Ministry for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees: Press Release – Clarification on the Status of Rwandan Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Uganda (22.11.2018)

OPM Refugee Scandal: It is verified that it was 352k Ghost Refugees!

Minister Hillary Onek and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda can make any excuses in the books of civil service. Not that they will be true for that matter, because earlier this year. It was revealed that in several of the refugee camps and settlements in the Republic of Uganda. The Government of Uganda had inflated the numbers, so they to could gain international recognition and also monetary gains for the needed people seeking refuge there.

This was ghosting refugees and the ones fleeing wars in Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Where the majority of the refugees comes from. This was a real scandal, that shown how the authorities are using the misfortune of others to eat donor pledges and multi-national organizations supply of foreign currency. To facilitate food, shelter and other needed services for the ones living in the refugee camps and settlements.

Take a look at this:

The Government of Uganda has one of the most progressive refugee policies, allowing refugees and asylum-seekers to live in gazetted refugee settlements and exercise freedom of movement and settlement within the country. As a routine practice, the government has provided a grace period of two months within which any registered refugee and asylum-seeker who missed the exercise, can approach OPM for verification. Taking this into consideration, the above verification numbers are preliminary. A more detailed analysis will be undertaken after the grace period. The difference between the initial verification target stands at 352,643 individuals. Among those, 255,490 individuals were verified as inactive and closed for the following reasons: a) 158,533 individuals whose whereabouts are unknown as reported by family members; b) 34,174 were reported by their families to have returned to their countries of origin; c) 9,481 were identified to have registered more than once; e) 3,931 were reported deceased; f) 1,489 were closed as they were Ugandan nationals; and (g) a verification exercise by OPM in April 2018 confirmed the urban refugee population to be 55,812” (UNHCR – ‘Joint statement by UNHCR and OPM on preliminary results of refugee verification exercise’ 08.11.2018).

So, the OPM and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) played this game with the lives of refugees and with the donor nations. Hoping to score more funding for non-existing refugees, getting funds and grants for people who never existed. That shows the devastation and extortion of the situation. When the ones in dire need and the ones in camp together with forged numbers are used in a scheme.

That is why the UPM and UNHCR had to do this exercise in the first place, as the lack of trust in the numbers. As they sky-rocketed and ballooned into ridiculous levels.

The OPM Refugee scandal of this years shows the value of oversight and due diligence, as the need to verify the numbers and the stats. That is why there is missing or ghosting over 352,000 people as refugees in Uganda. That shows how corrupt and how the state used the ability of refugees to take money from others.

Therefore, these sort of joint actions should happen often. To secure that the GoU and the OPM isn’t rigging the numbers in their favor. Peace.

OPM-UNHCR: Verification Exercise since March 2018 proves there is 1m refugees in Uganda!

Since February 2018, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Dr. Ruhukana Rugunda has been under fire for faking the numbers of refugees in the settlements and camps within the Republic of Uganda. Where they we’re doubling and tripling the numbers of refugees in Kampala and West Nile. These figures and set-backs have clearly sent out a memo to the United Nations Organizations. As they have been active since March 2018.

On the 20th October 2018 this has been done by United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the OPM are now verifying the amounts of refugees. This is significant, since this will establish the real numbers and how many who is really there. The individuals and their fate is more important, than their numbers, but when they have cheated on it to get more donor funding. These numbers become more vital. So, that the donations and the grants to help out these individuals come to the right ones and not being eaten by government officials.

The numbers dropped on the 20th October 2018 are after a verification exercise done in Adjumani District, this being in Bidibidi settlement on the 16th October 2018. They we’re able to target what they estimate 85% of the population there. In Bidibidi verified a total of 203,392. That is not all, but shows to what extent the refugee crisis is.

While in Kampala: “the daily turnout continues to be very low despite additional efforts on mobilization. The verification site remained open on Saturday to allow students and others to be verified over the weekend. However, over the period of six days, only 1,583 individuals were verified, majority being Congolese. In light of the low attendance, the verification team has operated at reduced capacity and the final day has been agreed by OPM-UNHCR as Wednesday 24th October” (OPM-UNHCR VERIFICATION EXERCISE: Update, 20.10.2018).

Therefore, the total estimate with all this exercises since March 2018 to 20th October 2018. Which states: “The ongoing verification of refugees in Uganda that started on 1st March 2018, verified a total of 17,428 individuals last week bringing the total as of 20th October 2018 to 1,088,415” (OPM-UNHCR VERIFICATION EXERCISE: Update, 20.10.2018).

So the are margins of error are still there. But the real crunched numbers are there. As the UNCHR wants the truth, as they are trying to collect funding for the operations of the settlements. Since the Ugandan government also wants to secure the donations too. This is all part of that and validate the need for the refugees. The scandal could block the support and trust in the agencies and the rampant forgery of numbers earlier in the year. This exercise was needed to build trust. Now the accuracy is more likely there. They might still try to find a way to inflate it, but it will be harder. Because the base-numbers through the verification makes it harder.

This was needed because of the lie, the lie of the numbers. These are now shattered. Now, the reality is there. It is still a million refugees and they need help. Both in the present, but also for building their future. That perspective is needed. This is people who fled burning villages, militias and armies fighting each other. They need space and trust to grow and rebuild. These people are trying to build a home. That is what should be focus and giving them hope in a dire situation. They are not just numbers.

Even if this story has been about the baseline numbers of refugees in the republic. That is because of the OPM inflated numbers to cheat donors funds. To earn money on their tragedy. That shall not be forgotten. But in the same manner. We need to discuss, how we can give this people hope for a better tomorrow. Peace.

Refugee Scandal: The OPM doubled the refugee numbers in Imvepi, West Nile!

If you ever think there was a big business adding ghosts. The Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda has made that their bread- and butter. They are known for this, but the UNHCR and other partners are making it sound like a “mistake”. Because they know if the Republic has more refugees, it would be easier to ask for more and more donations, bigger donations and even huge to cover the need for shelter, food and education of the refugees. Especially in our time, when the Western Hemisphere is doing whatever they can to stop the flow of migrants going their way. The European Union and their partners rather pay Uganda to keep the settlements, than get them moving to the Mediterranean to a better future. That is why I am not shocked that the OPM inflated the numbers and made the amounts sound bigger, it means they could collect more donations and get more hurry for funds to cover expenses of the Republic.

However, government and the UNHCR are insisting that the discrepancies do not appear deliberate but were occasioned by circumstances imposed by the mass influx and complex movements of refugees in the country. In Imvepi Refugee Settlement in West Nile for example, 53,856 refugees were verified using the Biometric Information Management System (BIMS) against 127,325 which had been registered under the government’s Refugee Information Management System (RIMS), representing a 58 per cent drop, according to figures by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). During a June 7 “coordination meeting” chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, whose minutes this newspaper has seen, OPM officials resolved to pursue the culprits in the scam and discuss how to manage the information flow to avoid potential backfire about the scandal. “OPM should initiate a report that will give a comprehensive brief about those issues and solutions as so far taken to solve the problem. The brief should be pre-emptive of the criticism that may be likely to come from other agencies concerning these discrepancies,” the minutes read in part” (Kafeero, 2018).

This is one report of the UNHCR and OPM working together after the inflated number and OPM Refugee scandal hit the headlines a while ago. Not that anyone should be shocked, the monetary gains for faking the numbers are huge and to pay for ghosts are cheap. That is how you go from a Toyota Prado to a Ford Expedition, even by luck a Land Rover Discovery. The politician can be flagged down in the most beautiful SUV with tinted windows in the village. That will be worth it for cheating someone who doesn’t care anyway.

That is why this is not shocking. What is seriously foolish, is that UNHCR are white-washing the problem. As they are accepting the initial numbers, which was forged to secure more funding, but calling it a mistake. While the OPM want to solve it now, as it makes them look greedy, which they are. They are trying to directly eat of the plate of the refugees and eat the donor aid for the ones fleeing crisis to stay in safety in Uganda. That is why the OPM shouldn’t just make a report, but come clean on all their numbers. As this is just one Refugee Settlement in West Nile. Who knows what sort of numbers they have forged and fixed to get more donations. Because, I don’t trust the OPM. They are in the business of inflating and making the government look good, while applying for funds from donors.

Amama Mbabazi was know for his shady deals and Rugunda have followed suit. Therefore, the Office itself is doing business- as usual, That business lying out of their teeth, while acting like nothing bad is happening behind closed doors. Peace.

Reference:

Kafeero, Stephen – ‘Government, UN probe finds inflated refugee figures’ (26.05.2018) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Government-UN-probe-finds-inflated-refugee-figures/688334-4629122-15pwjiuz/index.html

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees steps up support for Uganda’s refugee programme (20.02.2018)

The data verification exercise is scheduled to be completed by September 2018 – including introduction of biometric checks at food distribution sites.

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 20, 2018/APO Group/ —

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced today new measures to support the government of Uganda’s refugee programme, including through a major biometric data verification exercise.
“We are taking extremely seriously recent developments in Uganda. The refugee programme in this country is of critical importance, given the scale of the emergency and the role model played by Uganda in welcoming and receiving so many people seeking international protection,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo.

“On 1 March, in support of the Ugandan government, we together with our partners are launching a massive biometric verification exercise of all refugees in Uganda. This nation-wide re-enrolment and verification process will be key to help the government in fixing discrepancies in refugee data,” added Okoth-Obbo.

UNHCR has already deployed staff, with partner emergency teams, to start the exercise. In total, more than 400 staff will register refugees.

The data verification exercise is scheduled to be completed by September 2018 – including introduction of biometric checks at food distribution sites. The tried and tested UNHCR biometric system has already been used in 48 countries across the world and helped register some 4.4 million refugees.

In parallel, UNHCR’s independent Inspector General’s Office is rigorously pursuing its own oversight and due diligence measures, including investigations of several serious allegations received in 2017 on fuel embezzlement, one allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse, irregular tendering of water trucking, and fraud in procurement and food distribution.

Uganda initiated a probe in January after reports received by UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) alleged corruption and grave misconduct by government officials involved in refugee assistance.

“Let me be crystal clear: the allegations reported so far are not focused on UNHCR. Our investigations aim at supporting the recently launched probe by the Ugandan prime minister to fight corruption and grave misconduct by its officials,” said UNHCR’s Okoth-Obbo.

“At UNHCR, we have zero tolerance for misconduct, abuse and exploitation. Every possible report or allegation is thoroughly assessed,” stressed Okoth-Obbo.

Allegations concerning other UN agencies or implementing partners have been referred to the respective organizations for internal investigation, and those concerning government staff or entities have been referred to authorities in Uganda. UNHCR is closely monitoring the outcomes of these investigations and is closely cooperating with the Ugandan authorities and other partners.

UNHCR is also strengthening its monitoring and oversight to prevent a reoccurrence of the events, including the deployment of more senior staff to help put in place additional safeguards.

These new measures are being implemented as the current Representative is reaching the end of his term and a more senior replacement is about to arrive.

“Throughout his time in Uganda, Mr Bornwell Kantande has demonstrated deep commitment, steering the UNHCR operation in a particularly challenging environment characterized by multiple refugee influxes, with Uganda now hosting the largest number of refugees of any country in Africa. After almost three years as Representative, he will shortly move to a new assignment and in the meantime continues to enjoy my full support and trust,” said UN High Commissionner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Uganda provides protection to well over one million refugees, keeping an open-door policy for people fleeing conflict and persecution.

“We need a strong and collective response which aims at strengthening the refugee programmes in Uganda, while drawing lessons from the current situation,” concluded UNHCR’s Okoth-Obbo.

Opinion: OPM “Ghosting” Refugees are following a long-history of “ghosts” from the Ministry!

I wish I could make this up, but there are to coincidences that just doesn’t happen, that the Prime Minister of Uganda Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi meets on the 2nd February 2018 and just mere days after the sources are revealing to the Daily Monitor about Ghost Refugees. Because the PM went into agreement of monitoring and scaling the Refugees after UNHCR standards.

As the official note of the meeting said:

Rugunda said the Government is committed to the noble cause of supporting refugees in the country, adding that government has agreed to embrace the UNHCR registration system to enhance its work in the refugee settlement areas. “Government has accepted to use the UNHCR system of registration for refugees to enable proper identification of refugees which will enable us to serve them better. The system will also enable collection of reliable data and records of refugees,” Rugunda said.” (OPM, 2018).

It is just so fitting that it happens just day before these ghosts was revealed on the 5th February:

Our sources said a number of spot-checks were made to test the accuracy of the refugee numbers that have been reported. Daily Monitor understands that one spot-check was conducted in Kampala. When the more than 26,000 refugees, who were purportedly receiving provisions were asked to physically turn up and collect their share, only about 7,000 showed up, suggesting that about 19,000 were “ghosts” whose monies and other resources had been pocketed by some individuals in OPM. The sources also pointed to collusion between OPM officials and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to steal the monies and other resources meant for refugees” (Serunjogi, 2018).

That means the UNHCR and OPM had no problem to fix funding for 19,000 ghosts in their systems. This meaning both the government and the UN Body in Uganda used the Refugee crisis to eat the money. They was initially eating on the people fleeing civil war in South Sudan and Internal Conflict (silent war) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These individuals needs shelter and support until they can return home to their war-torn regions.

This means that the fleeing people are used in schemes to gain fortunes. You have merchants of death, selling weapons to warlords. Then you have boosters of the aid-industry to create crisis to get careers by the misfortune of people. This is what the latter did, made fortunes and crimes against refugees for their own benefit. It’s sick and disgusting.

The OPM and the Ugandan authorities accepted the UNHCR methods days ahead, but their where people on the inside of UNHCR who accepted ghosts. However, the OPM have had similar scandals with cars, civil servants, teachers, schools, “air supply” and students. All of the been ghosting and even phantom projects, which only exists on paper, but not in reality. This is scandals only going back to 2012, 2013 and thereabouts. It isn’t ancient or back to the stone-age. The OPM is known for this and has done it under the PM Mbabazi and now under PM Dr. Rugunda. Different childhood friend, but the same narrative.

Therefore, it’s nothing new that the OPM are ghosting in Uganda, it is just demeaning and disgraceful that they do this to refugees. And on the payment of foreign donors and after pleas of pledges during the Refugee Summit last year. Where Museveni felt they should get funds for local development too, not only benefit the refugees. When that sentiment is clear, showing that ghosts are made to benefit the locals and not only the refugees. The leaders are eating on the misfortune of the fleeing individuals.

That should be sickening. Clearly its not for the OPM and UNHCR. Peace.

Reference:

OPM – ‘UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES VISITS UGANDA’ (02.02.2018) link. http://opm.go.ug/2018/02/02/united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees-visits-uganda/

Sserunjogi, Eriasa Mukiibi – ‘OPM hit by refugee corruption scandal’ (05.02.2018) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/OPM-hit-refugee-corruption-scandal-/688334-4291600-13m30m6z/index.html

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