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Archive for the tag “Yumbe District”

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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Yumbe Riot: Conflicting reports, but seemingly authorities created the havoc and it got public reactions!

What can we can conclude is that the Police Force in Yumbe District has arrested about 60 people and two individuals seriously injured (some reports dead) after bullets hit the scene. The Police Force statements and the Uganda Revenue Authority statements doesn’t add-up. While the Police are saying the URA had an enforcement operation there, the URA counter-claim it and says there was none.

However, there has imports of illegal rice in this case, that created the havoc seen today in Yumbe, as both statements refers to it. The URA legal team, who encountered the boda-bodas with it, who was stoned for interfering with it. While the Police Force are not addressing directly the illegal rice, but that URA was looking at the number plates and lack of tax on the motorcycles.

Before the crowd and masses of people rioted, burning both motorcycles and a car belonging to the Danish Aid in the town. The end of the statement clarifies that the URA was there to collect taxes on the imported rice, and that the motorcycle drivers has to pay the state. Also that URA will continue this operations in the West Nile region.

The Police has said they will engage with the Boda Boda Industry and community, as of this incident. What is special, is one saying it was not paid for the motorcycle, the URA saying it was because of the lack of taxes on imports on the motorcycle. It is a small difference, but still one. We can wonder what was the truth.

What we do know, is that the Police has arrested a dozen of people and two killed, some say they were just hurt. Hard to know what is the fact. 103.2 Open Gate FM reported this earlier in the day: “Two people are reported dead in Yumbe District following a protest by youth in the area against operations of the Uganda Revenue Authority-URA. The protests were sparked by a URA operation against unregistered bodas bodas, in the event apprehending residents in the business. The operation became sour when the URA vehicle knocked down a bodaboda cyclist, making bodabodas to become rowdy by burning several vehicles prompting police to fire bullets. URA Manager Public and Corporate Affairs, Ian Rumanyika said the Authority was cracking down on unregistered boa bodas as well as those smuggles from South Sudan without reverting tax” (103.2 Open Gate FM, 28.03.2018).

So it wasn’t a peaceful initiating, as the URA Management followed and tracked the Boda Boda down. Knocked it and the Police intervened in the operation. The report of Open Gate, also say the URA was doing both, not just stopping the smuggling from South Sudan, but also look into the tags, which hadn’t paid tax. Secondly, they are saying that the URA team drove after the Boda Boda and actually knocked one down. That isn’t just fining and taking the tags, not only checking the products or rice, but actually nearly impounding it. This has been done without forewarning or local knowledge. If not this wouldn’t have happen.

So the URA are now combating illegal imports and also unregistered boda boda’s. Clearly, there have to be better methods, since this became violent, and the following after and knocking down. Was a final spark, since the URA Management created havoc on the way and than the Police intervened with guns, as the youth was throwing stones. When the violent activity transpired they addressed it with throwing stones and also burning cars.

Whatever it was, it shows the lack of oversight and the lack of basic understanding. It is natural for a state to tax imports, also serve taxes on plates, yearly pay for being able to drive on the roads. Both actions are normal, but if the URA Management did the right thing, if the Police Force did the same. Can be questioned and should be.

What should also be asked, would there be a better way to collect the missed tax and also secure the porous border points, so the Boda Boda can pay the levies when entering into Uganda again. Secondly, the URA should be able to notify the drivers of their missing payments and not knock them down for doing so.

We will see with time, if the stories are changing or if they will stay the same. However, this is worrying sight of the state of affairs. When collecting taxes becomes a stand-off, you know something is wrong. Peace.

URA: Clarification on Riot in Yumbe (28.03.2018)

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.

FAO calls for greater international support for Uganda’s growing number of refugees (31.08.2017)

FAO Director-General visits refugee settlements in Uganda’s North.

ROME, Italy, August 31, 2017 – The FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for greater funding for a sustainable response to the refugee crisis in Uganda, after concluding a visit today to refugee settlements in the country’s north.

The Director-General also reaffirmed FAO’s support to the Government of Uganda in its compassionate asylum policy under which land is allocated to refugees for shelter and cultivation.

“Uganda’s refugee model is an example to the world.  It is vital that funds be mobilized to support this effort so that refugees can provide food for themselves sooner rather than relying only on food aid, and so that refugees and their host communities can have a real opportunity to overcome hunger and poverty,” said Graziano da Silva.

“Uganda is giving not only food and land but hope,” he added.

Fastest-growing refugee crisis  
Uganda is host to the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. Since July last year, more than one million South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Uganda. The refugees are predominantly women and young people and come from farming or livestock herding communities.

Graziano da Silva visited two refugee settlements, Agojo and Mungula 1, in Adjumani district near Uganda’s border with South Sudan.

At Agojo, the Director-General helped distribute crop and vegetable seeds to more than 1,000 refugee and host community households. This support will enhance families’ nutrition, and generate income from the sale of any surplus.  At Mungula 1, he inaugurated a micro-irrigation project that will provide the refugee and host community households with a reliable source of water for their crops and animals.

High-level dialogue
Prior to visiting the settlements, Graziano da Silva met with Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

“People don’t chose voluntarily to become refugees. We have a responsibility to help our brothers by giving them hope because it’s them today, but the situation could change tomorrow,” said Dr. Rugunda.

Under a new response plan, FAO is intensifying its efforts in providing livelihood assistance to refugees and host communities. The plan focuses on food and livestock production, nutrition, protecting the environment and enhanced technical support to the Government.

The Director-General’s visit comes after the UN Secretary General called on the donor community in June to strengthen their support to the refugee response. Uganda requires around $2 billion annually for 2017-2020 to address refugee needs, and donors have so far only pledged around $358 million.

 

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

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