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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.

Kibanda North By-Election: A silent conning by-election in favor of NRM!

Just as the National Resistance Movement Primaries (NRM) prepared for the By-Election in the Kiryandongo District, in the county of Kibanda North. The July 2017, the primaries was filled with irregularities in favor Taban Idi Amin, who won it for the second time in two years. The one running against him could have taken this to court, but Sam Amooti Otada Owor sent an injunction into the High Court in Masindi. Clearly, this didn’t go well, since on the 9th August 2017. The other candidate and second placed in Kibanda North Otada Owor notified the Electoral Commission he withdrew his candidacy, the day before the 10th August, when the By-Election appeared.

Even if the Primaries still states like this:

The NRM Primary Declaration Form 14th July 2017 says that Taban Idi Amin won with 12,812 votes and had 73,6 percentage, while in second Sam Amooti Otado Owor got 2,761 votes and 15,9 percentage. In third and last George Maiteki Baitera Bigirwa got 1,472 votes and 8,5 percentage. While the total annulled votes are 367 and 2.1 percentage. Where the total votes of the whole Primary election we’re 17,412 votes and a 100 percentage” (Minbane – ‘Kibanda North County – NRM Primaries filled with irregularities as Tanga Odoi’s Declaration Form shows!’ 16.07.2017, link: https://minbane.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/httpwp-mep1xtjg-540/ ).

Clearly, Taban Idi Amin’s Primary election was flawed when the sheets and forms are so shady, the records for the electorate and the history will be remembered for the irregularities, not for a free and fair internal-party election.

Why you suddenly didn’t hear anything about the By-Election, since Sam Amooti Otado Owor did back-down on the 9th August, the need for casting ballots was pointless. There was no other candidate standing in the way of Taban Idi Amin. He could walk back to Parliament without having the ballots cast and counted through electoral process. The Electoral Commission said it wasn’t needed. That is why the whole By-Election has suddenly disappeared, because their was no competition. Not like it ever was, since the NRM Electoral Commission had handpicked Taban Idi Amin and wanted his candidacy, as their forms was a charade of facade and not a real deal.

So on the 10th August, the Museveni preferred candidate got his blessings, as the NRM was alone in the race, the were non UPC, DP, FDC, UFA or Independent that gave Taban any race. Therefore, no need for ballots and by-election. Just swearing-in and getting it over with. There was some reporting that Museveni forgave Otoda Owor over his rebellion against the party. Even if it was justified. Still, this made it easy to get another crony and stooge in the Parliament. Peace.

Uganda: Letter – “Re: Heightened Index of Suspicion for Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Your District” (21.08.2017)

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.

Uganda: Major National Review Recommends Ways of Ending Hunger in Uganda (27.07.2017)

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