Government and donors enable WFP to assist 1.2 million refugees and build local economies in Uganda (31.01.2020)

KAMPALA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) commends the Government of Uganda and all its donors for helping it to contribute to the basic food needs of 1.2 million refugees and their host communities across the country in 2019.

Donors and the Government of Uganda supported WFP to meet the basic dietary needs of refugees through monthly food or cash transfers. In addition, donors funded the treatment and prevention of malnutrition among refugees and Ugandans living around refugee settlements.

WFP was also able to support smallholder farmers to improve their yields and incomes while reducing food losses.

“The partnership between government, donors and WFP is vital to fight hunger and malnutrition in Uganda,” said El-Khidir Daloum, WFP Country Director. “The ability of donors to swiftly provide funding and entrust us to deliver assistance to those seeking refuge —often women and children fleeing unimaginable hardships—needs our heartfelt recognition.”

In 2019, WFP’s refugee operation received contributions from Uganda, Canada, the European Commission, Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and the United States of America.

Donors enabled WFP to help boost economies within Uganda by purchasing food locally. In addition, WFP strengthened its food and cash distribution procedures, including using biometrics to confirm identities in order to improve the accountability and integrity of the refugee response.

The government and donors helped WFP to expand cash-based transfers, reaching 35 percent of all refugees assisted. Cash allows refugees to choose what food they buy and stimulates economic growth in and around settlements. Cash also boosts government efforts to enhance financial inclusion.

Through cash-based transfers, WFP injected US$35 million into refugee settlements in 2019.

At the end of 2019, Uganda hosted 1.38 million refugees— the highest number of refugees in Africa. More than 67,300 refugees arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan between July and December. Women and people under the age of 18 make up 83 percent of refugees.

They typically arrive in Uganda with little to no assets, leaving them heavily dependent on assistance. A WFP and government study in 2017 found that even while the government gives land and the UN and other organizations provide additional assistance, refugees remain vulnerable for years.

By meeting their basic food and nutrition needs, WFP and its partners enable refugees to begin a journey toward self-reliance and resilience in line with Uganda’s refugee policy.

Donors to WFP’s relief and development work in Uganda to support refugees and host communities in 2019 were: Canada (US$562,000), the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (US$16 million), Ireland (US$2.3 million), Japan (US$2 million), the Republic of Korea (US$7 million of oil and rice), Russia (US$1.5 million), Sweden (US$1.7 million), Uganda (US$2.7 million of rice), the United Kingdom (US$56 million), the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (US$3.5 million) and the United States of America (US$110.6 million).

Contributions also came from multilateral (US$2 million) and private donors (US$306,400).

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

USA: Rep. Cummings, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes letter on ICE’s Bait and Switch (11.09.2019)

Opinion: Ilhan Omar deserves credit not scrutiny!

But the reason I think that many of us knew that this was going to get worse is that we finally had a leader in the White House who publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying” (…) “Some people like me know that he understands the consequences. He knows that there are people that he can influence to threaten our lives, to diminish our presence” – Rep. Ilhan Omar on the 10th April 2019

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar is one of the persons, one of the representatives that represents everything the President of United States isn’t. She represent the ones who came through poverty, immigrated and made a new life in the United States. That is why she is idol and also a figure of amassed power. Because, she is the living proof of the hope and ability of immigrants and refugees in the United States. Everything, this administration is working against and wants to stop.

Rep. Omar has again and again since her time in office, as a Representative from Minnesota. Shown character and courage. Shown force when explaining the misuse of power and the lack of oversight in the role of Israeli investment and diplomatic unity between the American Government and Israeli counterparts. That was called anti-Semitism, when it was really just questioning the powers to be and their affiliation with a foreign force. Still, because of her personality, her religion and her heritage. That became giant issue.

Again, she is under-fire for the same reason. Because of who she is, not because of what she stands for or working towards. No, the political work and her statements are shining examples of the American Dream, of the unity and the diversity of the United States. However, the President and the Republican Party, prefer scaremongering and silencing tactic towards the ones who works for diverse republic. The ones that is actually working for the what the Republic has been known for, to be welcoming and friendly to all religions, creeds and ethnic groups to immigrate there.

She was stating all of this in a manner that wasn’t offensive, wasn’t wrong, but just wanting the United States, to be what it is known for. To let people enter the Republic and try to achieve the American Dream. By following immigration law or the rights as asylum-seekers. That is well-known.

Rep. Omar is an inspiration and someone that gives hope to the world. People are taking things out of context and beating it up. Because she fits as someone you can use as a target. The President and the GOP does it steady with her. Especially since she got the courage to co-sponsor a bill, which attacks and directly stops one of the big executive orders of this presidency. That is why they are attacking her, because she defends the end of the Muslim Ban and the direct ban of entering of certain nationalities.

There is time for a change, there is a time for the equality and justice, not just white supremacy rule, where the fringe ideas became policy. That is what has happen and now that the democrats have control of the House. The Republicans and their control of the Capitol Hill is challenged and sometimes can even hang the Congress.

I’ll stand by Ilhan Omar and her cause, which will change the United States for the better. Peace.

Rep. Bennie Thompson letter to DHS Secreatry Kirstjen Nielsen on “the Wall” (04.01.2019)

President Trump letter to the Congress on “the Wall” (04.01.2019)

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.

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)