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Archive for the tag “Hon. Hilary Onek”

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

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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

Local EU Statement on Alleged Fraud and Corruption Cases in Refugee Settlements in Uganda (05.02.2018)

Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda (OPM) Government Statement: On Allegations of Possible Abuse of Refugee Funds (05.02.2018)

Minister Okello Oryem Meets Troika Representatives (17.11.2017)

 

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

KAMPALA, Uganda, November 17, 2017 – On November 15, 2017 the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Henry Oryem Okello met with Representatives of the South Sudan peace-guarantor Troika member countries (Norway, United Kingdom and the United States) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala. The Troika Representatives were Mr. Paul Sutphin (USA), Mr. Chris Trott (UK) and Mr. Ering Skjonsberg (Norway).

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

The members of the Troika reiterated their strong support for the combined efforts of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations to end the conflict in South Sudan, and joined their recent calls on all armed parties, including the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, and other armed groups, to commit to a ceasefire.

They emphasized that the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the direct result of the conflict and called on all parties to cease violence against humanitarian workers and obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

The Troika endorsed the ongoing efforts by IGAD and praised Uganda’s peace initiative which aimed at bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table, positively noting that this initiative was endorsed by both parties to the conflict. The Troika expressed pleasure that Uganda is in full support of the IGAD process. In addition, they endorsed the work of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, and the deployment of its Regional Protection Force.

Hon Okello welcomed the visiting team and stressed the importance of the support being extended towards all the peace initiatives. He reassured them that Uganda will continue playing a mediatory and conciliatory role between the belligerent parties to ensure that an agreement is reached.

In attendance at the meeting were the Heads of Diplomatic Missions of the Troika resident in Kampala and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

South Sudan refugees in Uganda pass 1 million mark, UNHCR renews call for help (18.08.2017)

Over the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day.

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 18, 2017 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today reiterating its call to the international community for urgent additional support for the South Sudan refugee situation and Uganda in particular, where the number of refugees from South Sudan has now reached 1 million.

Over the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day. In addition to the million there, a million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.

In Uganda, more than 85 per cent of the refugees who have arrived there are women and children (below 18 years in age). Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription.

With refugees still arriving in their thousands, the amount of aid we are able to deliver is increasingly falling short. For Uganda, US$674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees this year, but so far only a fifth of this amount (21 per cent) has been received. Elsewhere in the region, the picture is only marginally better – in all US$883.5 million is needed for the South Sudan situation, but only US$250 million has been received.

The funding shortfall in Uganda is now significantly impacting the abilities to deliver life-saving aid and key basic services. In June, the World Food Programme was forced to cut food rations for refugees. Across settlements in northern Uganda, health clinics are being forced to provide vital medical care with too few doctors, healthcare workers and medicines. Schooling, meanwhile is also being impacted. Class sizes often exceed 200 pupils, with some lessons held in the open air. Many refugee children are dropping out of education as the nearest schools are too far away for them to easily access.

Since December 2013, when South Sudan’s crisis erupted in Juba, more than two million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, while another two million people are estimated to be internally displaced.

President Museveni’s speech showed his real sentiment at the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees 2017

I don’t believe that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni hold the Refugee Summit in Kampala this week out of solidarity. It was of an operation to secure his state the lost funds that the state has to raise through loans. So yesterday he had the massive speech for the event, which had lot of information, but for me this passage was telling why he had the summit and what value the refugees really have for him. You wouldn’t see them as bargain chips if you didn’t say it this way. Why do I say that, the districts with the refugee camps are in his mind deserving infrastructure, not supported by the state, but by the International Community. Therefore, it was held to raise sufficient funds for the refugees, but if he could, he could sponge of the funds. Not like the National Resistance Movement (NRM), though he was speaking in the beginning of this passage like it is NRM Regime who pays of all infrastructure, but the World Bank and others are giving either grants or direct loans to infrastructure projects.

That is why I’m kind of not surprised of the real solidarity would be pay the bills for the President and his own pledges, instead of really helping the refugees. They are just needed people to gain popularity abroad and solidarity for ones fleeing for refugee in Uganda. Instead of looking into the draconian laws of Uganda, the oppressive behavior of the NRM or even famine made by lacking governance in many districts in Uganda itself. That is why I particular looks into this part of his speech from the Solidarity Summit, as these words prove the value of the summit for the President himself.

The hosting districts of Uganda should also be rewarded. Especially in the area of the road infrastructure, the government of Uganda is already doing most of the development required. On account of many demands, however, there are certain roads that over-night become of high demand because of the sudden big numbers in the area on account of the influx of refugees. There are, in particular, two roads that should be bituminized but the government is not yet able to take on. These are: Moyo-Yumbe-Koboko, in the neighbourhood of the famous Bidi Bidi camp in Yumbe district that is hosting 272,168 refugees today; and Kabiingo-Rugaaga-Magabi-Rakai that starts from the famous Nakivaale Refugee Settlement camp that looked after the Rwanda refugees between 1960 and 1994 and is still hosting different waves of subsequent refugees” (…) “The Uganda government will, eventually, do these roads. If, however, the International Community was to expedite that process and we informed our people in the areas, they would understand that their hospitality has not been in vain” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 23.06.2017).

You can really tell that the President has significant plans for using the solidarity and raised funds for needed infrastructure. Ugandan government wants to use the refugee situation to get funds for national projects and roads. That it just happens to be between the Refugee Settlements in the Northern Uganda. Where the South Sudanese refugees are settled because of the civil war in South Sudan. Certainly, the political stalemate are the ones that even President Museveni is involved in. Therefore, him trying to use it for road development.

Clearly, his real sentiment is for road development not helping the refugees. That is why the districts should be rewarded, not by the state itself, but the international community. If you ever wonder where his heart was, you got it right there. It is not like President Museveni has the refugee settlement for charity, more for leverage and use to get solidarity since the direct donor funds to his government has dwindled over the recent decade. So he has found another trick to get raised funds for his pledges. Peace.

Bukedea district: NRM Government neglect to another level, they are stealing from their starving citizens!

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”Harry Truman (Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950).

Certainly, the National Resistance Movement and their government doesn’t seem to care how they look. None of their pledges or even written letters to the Local Government matters. Not even in the midst of famine and starvation. You would think that a government and their agencies had sense of keeping their promises to the ones who needs the most basic in life – as their plates are empty after droughts and bad governance. Therefore, the NRM has no sense, when the Bukedea district are reacting that their promised food relief is less; than promised from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda and his department. Certainly, this is disrespecting the people and the citizens of Bukedea. Take a look!

Mike Okwii, the district secretary for health and social services wants the matter investigated expeditiously before they can distribute what they have received. “According to the letter signed by the commissioner of disaster and preparedness, Bukedea was supposed to get 800 bags of posho and 400 bags of beans. But the district has received only 400 bags of posho and 50 bags of beans, which is shocking. So for us at the district leadership, we have decided not to distribute this food. Not until when OPM delivers all the food items”, he said. Okwii confirmed that as of now, nobody has given them any response as to why the Office of the Prime Minister delivered consignments that have fewer supplies that what was declared. “Nobody has given us the right answer why they delivered less food compared to what is on the delivery note. The minister for Teso Affairs is going to follow the matter because you can imagine the minister came to Bukedea to allocate food to the sub-counties. Little did she know that she allocated food which is not even there”, he added (URN, 2017).

The reason for the disrespect is staggering as the reports of termites and insects to survive, proves the lacking governance and upkeep of institutions. Also, the agricultural sector has been left behind, as the irrigation and thinking of how use water in farming. Certainly, the food relief is a way of making sure the people eat while they wait for next season and possible time to start farming again. These in regions that has been hard hit and the government had been warned by FAO and FEWSNET, so these reports should have forewarned them.

Food is required besides the medication. If someone is sick, the first treatment is food; medicine works well on a well fed body,” said Dr. Chebitai” (New Vision, 2017). Therefore, with the knowledge that the state still has the capacity to not deliver what so needed and necessary is not only a theft, but taken food of the plates of those who starve. That the NRM has the audacity to this proves how they can easily neglect their citizens. Even taking away their first treatment, that is the level of disappointment, the ruling regime can to do their own. Peace.

Reference:

New Vision – ‘Parliament staff donate food items to Teso’ (07.05.2017) link:http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1453187/parliament-staff-donate-food-items-teso

In the Teso Region they are eating termites to survive the famine!

There are something deeply wrong, so sincerely wrong when the citizens doesn’t get needed food relief and have to eat termites and insects to survive. This is the state of the famine now in Teso Region, in Katakwi, Amuria, Bukedea and Kaberamaido district.

Mr Robert Okitoi, the Amuria District council chairperson, said “The situation is bad, people are now eating termites. I think the government should just declare a state of emergency for the regions of Teso, Karamoja and Lango.” (NTV Uganda, 01.06.2017). On the 26th April 2017 the Parliament has passed a motion to declare ‘State of Emergency’ in Uganda, but the President and the State House has not done anything about it.

Still, a local farmer wrote a piece to the Chimp Reports that has some valuable assessments:

The current hunger in Teso has largely been attributed to drought, while this assertion may hold some truths; there is increasingly evidence that the Ministry of Teso Affairs has not done its part. Hunger in Teso is as a result of both internal and external factors. For many years, the region has been experiencing declining productivity and this was recently worsened by drought. For districts like Ngora, Bukedia and Kumi, land fragmentation has heavily affected productivity” (…) “Clearly besides drought, Teso food systems are in a crisis and our expectation was that the Ministry of Teso affairs working with other stakeholders would work to address this problem. Our view is that hunger should be among the ‘affairs’ that Ministry of Teso Affairs should be engaged in.Agriculture remains a major livelihood for our people in Teso and therefore we require urgent response from Ministry of Teso Affairs on its plans to help our people get out of the current hunger crisis”(Akorikin, 2017).

This here proves that the drought is just the last piece of the straw in a bigger problem, that even the State Ministry has not been in-charge and had the oversight of the Teso Region. There are lacking the support they need. Still, the government still have done something now and then. Like this one relief to Kaberamaido district: “Kaberamaido district has finally received 12, 000 kilograms of relief food from government valued at Shillings 33 million. Kaberamaido is among the districts battling a severe food crisis resulting from crop failure due to prolonged drought. The most affected areas in the district are Ochero, Bululu, Kobulubulu, Kaberamaido, and Apapai sub counties. With over 5,000 households facing starvation representing about half of the total population in the district, the 12,000 kilograms of flour delivered is far from solving the food crisis” (Odongo, 2017). That means on the 30th April 2017, the government delivered 12.000kgs of flour that is estimated to be 231,000 citizens in the district alone. Therefore, you don’t have to be rocket scientist to know that this food relief to the one district isn’t enough…

The minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Hilary Onek, has offered a bit of advice to the hunger-stricken; stop selling the little food you have left. Onek said the weather has become so unreliable for Ugandans to hold on to the little hope for better yields. “They should consider family needs first before selling all the food. Districts like Lira had a lot of food but it [food] was sold to traders from Kenya, South Sudan and even Rwanda because people want money,” he said in an interview. Asked whether government would consider banning the sale of food to outsiders, Onek said they wouldn’t, in the spirit of the East African Community. “That is not an option we will consider; we only want people to behave responsibly to take care of their family needs before they sell all the food,” he said” (UMDF, 2017).

So now the Minister Onek gives advice to the impoverished citizens, so that they are careful with their food stocks, as the relief of the districts are not up-to par. Therefore, that they didn’t stock the extra foods and now they tell the families to take of it. The government could have used their resources and built food-stocks, instead of living hand to mouth. The small-time farmers in the Teso-Region certainly, needs more than fear of selling what they don’t have, they need support and food relief.

The state also has to facilitate the farmers, not in Operation Wealth Creation or Jerry-Can irrigation, but real projects, storage of food-stocks and recreate farmers Co-Ops in the districts and sub-counties to collectively earn and work together to get better yields and also productivity in general. But that isn’t a scheme and way the National Resistance Movement can corrupt or thieve the funds from. Therefore, that will not happen and is the reason why the similar institutions are gone during the decades of President Museveni.

The Teso Region and these district needs help, the man-made famine together with the drought that has worsen it. So the Government has to charge and actually make a difference, not just thieve monies away from Kampala. Peace.

Reference:

Akorikin, Francis – ‘OPINION: Government Should Review the Relevance of Ministry of Teso Affairs’ (05.05.2017) link: https://www.chimpreports.com/opinion-government-should-review-the-relevance-of-ministry-of-teso-affairs/

Odongo, Ronald – ‘Kaberamaido Receives 12,000 KGs of Food Relief’ (30.04.2017) link: https://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/govt-delivers-12000-kilograms-of-posho-worth-ugx-33m-to-famine-hit-residents

Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) – ‘HILARY ONEK TO HUNGER VICTIMS: DON’T SELL FOOD’ (01.05.2017) link: https://www.umdf.or.ug/?q=content/hilary-onek-hunger-victims-don%E2%80%99t-sell-food

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