As suspicion fell on Super Cereal as a possible cause or carrier of contamination, WFP acted swiftly, halting all distributions of the food first in Karamoja and then across Uganda.
ROME, Italy, May 3, 2019 – As a precautionary measure, the World Food Programme (WFP) has temporarily halted distribution worldwide of a fortified blended food from one of its suppliers as tests continue to establish whether it is linked to outbreaks of illness in East Africa.
According to medical centres and hospital records, three people died and 293 were admitted to health centres in the Karamoja region of Northeast Uganda in March and April after eating Super Cereal, distributed by WFP. The product is used by WFP and partners to prevent malnutrition, especially among women and children.
Preliminary investigations have failed to conclusively find what caused the illness. To date, more than 2,400 food-related laboratory tests were conducted – including for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides and microbial contaminants – but the root cause of the problem has not yet been established.
As suspicion fell on Super Cereal as a possible cause or carrier of contamination, WFP acted swiftly, halting all distributions of the food first in Karamoja and then across Uganda. Communications campaigns were launched to urge any people in Karamoja with remaining stocks to return them. These campaigns included using radio messages, focus group discussions, community dialogues and public discussions with elders and community leaders.
On 9 April, WFP halted the distribution globally of all products from the supplier in question. This involved putting on hold Super Cereal stocks in WFP operations in 25 countries.
In a further precautionary move, on 30 April, WFP ordered all stocks of Super Cereal from the same supplier should be secured in WFP warehouses and storage areas belonging to partners. Samples from the stock will continue to be tested to confirm or rule out any of the preliminary conclusions.
This issue is unprecedented in its implications for WFP’s global supply chain as the food supplies on hold around the world amount to over 21,000 metric tons, with an estimated replacement value of US$22 million. WFP has taken extensive preventative action as the health and safety of the people we serve is our foremost concern.
Super Cereal is maize or wheat blended with soya beans, fortified with vitamins and minerals, processed into a flour and supplied in 25-kg bags and is a critical part of WFP’s efforts to prevent malnutrition and save lives.
The Ministry of Health received an alert through its surveillance teams on the ground in Karamoja about suspected food poisoning and began investigations.
KAMPALA, Uganda, March 19, 2019 – The Government of Uganda and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are investigating whether there is a connection between recent illnesses reported in two districts in Karamoja and Super Cereal, a fortified blended food distributed by WFP for prevention of malnutrition.
On Tuesday, 12th, 2019, the Ministry of Health received an alert through its surveillance teams on the ground in Karamoja about suspected food poisoning and began investigations.
Some 262 people have been affected since 12 March with symptoms of mental confusion, vomiting, headache, high fever and abdominal pain. A total of 252 of those were discharged following successful treatment at health facilities in Amudat and Napak. No new admissions have been reported since Monday 18 March.
Seventy-seven of the 262 people were admitted in Alakas, Lokales and Karita health centres in Amudat district while 185 were admitted in Lotome, Lorengechora, Kangole and Apeitolim health centres and Matany Hospital in Napak district. The admissions took place between 12th and 16th of March.
There are unverified reports of three deaths, one of them at Matany Hospital, Napak District and other two in the communities. One male passed away in Lorengechora,Lookit village, Napak district and another female in Amuna village in Karita Sub County, Amudat district. All the deaths took place on 16th of March, 2019. The Government’s investigative team are in the communities to verify the two none facility deaths.
Samples of Super Cereal stocks and water were taken from the affected areas including blood, vomitus and urine from patients and are currently being analyzed at the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory and the Central Public Health Laboratory. Food samples have been sent to a laboratory in Mombasa, Intertek Kenya LTD and another in Johannesburg Intertek Testing Services, S.A. LTD, for further analysis. Preliminary results of the Government investigation are expected in the next 24 hours. While results from abroad are expected within the next 5 to 7 days.
The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mr. John Byabagambi, the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Country Director of WFP, Mr. El Khidir Daloum, and officials of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards visited the affected villages, in Amudat and Napak district on Monday 18 March, and spoke to the affected people and health workers. The team found that the problem remains localized in only two of the eight districts of Karamoja.
Investigating teams from the Ministry of Health and WFP food technologists remain on the ground carrying out surveillance and epidemiological mapping to establish the associated factors and possible causes of this recent illness.
On Friday 15 March, WFP, working with the Government, ordered the immediate suspension of Super Cereal distributions in Karamoja and the refugee hosting districts where it’s distributed. This is as a precautionary measure until investigations are concluded. WFP is working with district authorities to retrieve all Super Cereal stocks from health centres and communities.
An intensive communications campaign is ongoing, advising people not to consume SuperCereal until further notice. Communities have been advised to observe proper hygiene and sanitation, for example through handwashing with soap and drinking boiled water.
Working through Government health systems, WFP has provided Super Cereal in Uganda for more than 10 years. The current coverage of Super Cereal is at 252 locations in Karamoja in addition to many sites across the 13 refugee hosting districts. Refugees receive Super Cereal in the general food basket.
Super Cereal is also distributed in many countries and has a robust record of fighting malnutrition and protecting pregnant or nursing women against malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life. Super Cereal undergoes all the verifications of quality control before being distributed. No previous complaints have been reported about the product in Uganda.
Super Cereal is a key component in WFP’s support to the Government’s nutrition programmes that aim to prevent stunting or life-threatening malnutrition.
The goal of The United Nations World Food Programme is saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP supports governments and works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.
The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Karamoja affairs and WFP commit to conclude all investigations and share results with the public.
We appeal for calmness as investigations are going on and request the communities to report any suspected illness to the nearest health facility or call our toll free line 080010006.
It is a noble idea to have an Arms Embargo in South Sudan, as the civil war and the never-ending negotiations of peace is continuing, even as the Khartoum Declaration and Outstanding Issues are working in tandem, even as the IGAD High Level Revitalization Forum have sort of failed and only given the republic empty promises. As the partners haven’t agreed totally or even respected the cease-fire starting on the 1st July 2018. There still been skirmishes and attacks, which wasn’t supposed to appear.
With this in mind the negotiation and peace dialogue in Entebbe haven’t been fruitful or delivered. In this spirit it isn’t weird, as he has been a starch supporter of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). That has been proven in the past, latest in February, when he promised to serve weapons to Kiir, even if there was imposed an embargo. Therefore, his words yesterday are important. Also show the provisions of the Arms Embargo in the end.
In February 2018:
“I want to you tell this, and whether you believe it or not, the government will never fail to acquire weapons by any means. What the foreign countries, including the United States of America, are doing is a pursuit of regime change which nobody will entertain even in America,” said a presidential aide asked what actually was the message Ugandan envoy had delivered. “Nobody will accept that a democratically elected government be changed through the force or by an imposed agreement,” he further told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity” (…) “President Museveni is indeed a friend of the people of South Sudan. He sent the special message for two purposes. One, he assured his excellency, General Salva Kiir Mayardit of the support of the people and the government of the Republic of Uganda to the people and the Republic of South Sudan. His Excellency President Museveni gave the assurance of highest support in this situation. Two, in case of sanctions, the government of Uganda would do its best to ensure all weapons and associated services destined to South Sudan are facilitated,” he said” (Sudan Tribune, 2018).
In July 2018:
“Museveni told the United Kingdom minister for armed forces Col. Mark Lancaster that an arms embargo will not help in the peace process. “Mr Museveni told his guests that imposing sanctions on South Sudan will not help in finding a solution to that country’s challenges adding that observation of ceasefire by the warring groups, security reform and working to have elections, among others, will help the country move towards peace,” Museveni told Col. Lancaster, according to a statement released by Uganda State House.
United Nations Arms Embargo:
“Arms Embargo “4. Decides that, until 31 May 2019, all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the territory of South Sudan from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned; and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel whether or not originating in their territories;” (…) “8. Calls upon all Member States, in particular States neighbouring South Sudan, to inspect, in accordance with their national authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea and relevant international civil aviation agreements, all cargo to South Sudan, in their territory, including seaports and airports, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, or transfer of which is prohibited by paragraph 4 of this resolution for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of these provisions” (…) “9. Decides to authorize all Member States to, and that all Member States shall, upon discovery of items the supply, sale, or transfer of which is prohibited by paragraph 4 of this resolution, seize and dispose (such as through destruction, rendering inoperable, storage or transferring to a State other than the originating or destination States for disposal) of such items, and decides further that all Member States shall cooperate in such efforts” (UNSC, 2018).
As you have seen, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has promised arms, even if there is an embargo and he will secure weapons for the conflict. That is how he is, he doesn’t care about the conflict or the innocent lives taken by it. He is the war-lord earning fortunes on the trade of arms and being a beacon in the midst of the conflict. It is a win-win, he get to sell weapons and be part of the peace-process. Which I find amazing.
That the African Union and East African Community is using Museveni is boggling me, when he has no trouble offering weapons and arms to the TGoNU and Kiir government. So, when he is such a partner to the Juba Administration, while it is negotiations and having dialogue with the rebels and other outfits. It doesn’t make sense.
He will not follow the Arms Embargo, as he has promised to help Kiir. Therefore, the UN shouldn’t just call upon, they should also sanction them for trading arms with South Sudan. That is why the Embargo has little value, as long as the Ugandan government are friendly and will do business with the TGoNU. They will serve the needs and sell to earn big-business in Juba on the arms-trade.
Museveni doesn’t fear the UN or the Member States, they are in his favor with refugees and peacekeepers elsewhere. So, if he breaks Arms Embargo and sanctions, he know he won’t get scrutinized or even pay for violations. That is why he will do it too. Peace.
South Sudan News Agency – ‘Ugandan President asks UN to drop South Sudan arms embargo’ 14.07.2018 link: http://southsudannewsagency.org/index.php/2018/07/14/ugandan-president-asks-un-to-drop-south-sudan-arms-embargo/
Sudan Tribune – ‘Museveni tells South Sudan not to worry from U.S. sanctions’ (11.02.2018) link: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64703
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – ‘Adopting Resolution 2428 (2018), Security Council Extends Sanctions on South Sudan’ 13.07.2018 link: https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/adopting-resolution-2428-2018-security-council-extends-sanctions-south-sudan
In South Sudan the prolonged civil war is continuing and with the fresh dialogue between the parties didn’t help. Some had hope that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Government (SPLM-IG) or the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. He has been ruling and with an iron fist. While the main opposition leader and rebel Dr. Riek Machar are running the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). There is also a coalition of other rebels and opposition, who is the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) of 8 political parties/militias, some of them are run by big men like Dr. Lam Akol (National Democratic Movement – NDM) and Gen. Thomas C. Swaka (National Salvation Front – NAS).
Therefore, the knowledge of delegations from SSOA, TGoNU and SPLM/A-IO in the IGAD High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) that has failed as even the house-arrested Machar couldn’t mend the fences or the idea of peaceful progress. That means the army and militias will continue to fight until they got supremacy.
Some people had hope as Ethiopian Government hosted this 32nd Extra-Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa and the shared arrangement to work on the “Revised Bridging Proposal” for all the stakeholders in the conflict as IGAD prepared for the dialogue this week. Still, that did not make it easier. They have the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) &Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM). All of these are interfering and monitoring the Republic. This combined with all the NGOs and Bilateral Organizations who support as well. Therefore, the international community is involved in the process. They are bookkeeping and securing needed services in the midst of the civil war, even footing the bills for it all. So the TGoNU can continue their fighting against their opposition.
This combined with various agreements that has not been kept, cease fire violations and such. These War-Lords really has no plan of quitting. They are preoccupied with the continued conflict and the looting of the Republic. There major resources being squandered away, not only seen by the Sentry in their reports, but the Kenyan bloggers are looking into the money laundering and estates owned by the War-Lords from South Sudan. Clearly, they are preoccupied with earning money on the toils and tears created by the conflict. That is why they are afraid of their future if the conflict ends. The guns are speaking their language. Even as the people are still lingering in refugee camps abroad and the Republic has no solution. The leadership isn’t hungry for peace, it is hungry to overcome its advisory.
At this point as the years lingers and the leaders continue to eat of the poverty, the famine and civil-wars, even as the state is bankrupt, creating higher bank-notes and the international community is footing the bills for development and needed supplies in refugee camps. This is clearly not the intention. But that is the sad reality as the innocent are dying and is afraid. The own leadership are holding this on. They are violating agreements or stifling it. If they are not getting their way, they are picking up guns or sending tanks to their yards. That is what happen in 2016, when the 2015 Agreement was starting to be established. However, that only lasted months before the new fresh conflict we are seeing today. Since then, there has been more deflections and more creations of new outfits who wants both Machar and Kiir to step down. However, none of them seems to fit the bill.
The state of affairs is sad. The people deserve peace, but War-Lords are busy finding ways to outsmart the enemies. Instead of dialogue and building real bridges, they are instead blowing them up hoping no-one finds out.
The people of South Sudan deserves better, but the leadership is busy killing each other and trying only to use ammunition to do so. They are not interested in talking. They know the trigger and is ready to aim. Peace.