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KIGALI, Rwanda, February 12, 2021/APO Group/ -- Today, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced it would reduce food assistance to refugees in Rwanda by a dramatic 60 percent, as of March 2021. Some 135,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees in camps in Rwanda rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs each month.

“This is a desperate situation and, without an immediate response from donors, we simply have no choice but to reduce our assistance to the refugees,” said WFP Country Director Edith Heines. “While WFP appreciates the support received so far, we are urgently appealing to donors to quickly come to the aid of the refugees and provide additional funding so that we can return to full rations and avoid any prolonged negative impacts.”

WFP provides refugees with a monthly cash transfer to buy food in local markets.  Each person receives RWF 7,600 (US$ 7.72) under a full ration allocation, which provides the basic foods to meet minimum nutrition requirements for that person.      

WFP requires US$9 million to avert ration reductions from March through June 2021, and US$20.6 million to continue full assistance to refugees throughout 2021. If no new funding is received, deeper reductions will be necessary in the coming months.

Despite the reductions, WFP will maintain full rations of targeted nutrition support to refugees identified as particularly vulnerable, such as children under two years, schoolchildren, and pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as people living with HIV and tuberculosis patients under treatment. A total of 51,000 refugees including 37,000 schoolchildren are being assisted.

This comes at a time when many refugees have been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  WFP data from June and November 2020 noted an increased reliance on external aid among refugees since the onset of the pandemic. 

Ration reductions are likely to cause widespread food insecurity and potentially lead to increased tensions within the refugee community.  In late 2017 through mid-2018, WFP was forced to reduce rations by twenty-five percent due to funding shortfalls. A WFP survey in 2018 found that as a result the percentage of refugee families with poor household eating habits doubled.

In 2021, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and WFP are jointly moving towards needs-based humanitarian assistance instead of the current blanket assistance for refugees.  This exercise will further allow scarce donor resources to be prioritized for the most vulnerable.  The strategy will also strive to create more access to livelihood opportunities for refugees.

“This new approach will allow us to prioritise funding and focus on those refugees who need our help the most,” said Heines.  “But in order for it to be successful, the refugee operation must be fully supported at this critical stage to ensure we have the support of the refugee community as we transition to this new way of programming.”

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Rwanda. Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains. - Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

By now you might have seen or heard about the sensational piece of fake news that went viral a few days on WhatsApp, claiming that western Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni’s home region (with a third of Uganda’s population), had 270 MPs, more than the rest of the regions combined, which had 256 MPs. It was wrong, as western region has 129 MPs, fewer than eastern region, which has 141, almost as many as the north, and only 24 more than central.

The fake news, however, was/is widely believed and, curiously, it took at least a day for the political system and Ugandan truth keepers on social media to counter it. The misinformation was a piece of near-genius misinformation. Many believed it, because the Museveni government has been portrayed successfully as sectarian and many consider it to be “tribal”.

Secondly, it was well-timed when feelings are still running high over the January 14 elections, which rivals have rejected as stolen and runner-up Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) is challenging in court. In the prevailing ill-will, such “news” is likely to be well-received.

Except, this doesn’t end there. In Ugandan history, such fake news has always been an indicator of a wider political contest – and in the early 1980s, ironically, President Museveni was a beneficiary.  Generally, what have now gained prominence the world over as fake news and conspiracy theories, don’t happen randomly or in a vacuum.

It can be deadly propaganda, used to incite violence, but it can also be revolutionary, a weapon of the weak against the powerful. A Goliathan state, frustrated by the enduring popularity of an Opposition figure or his tenacity, will resort to fake news (and trumped-up charges of rape) against him - just ask FDC’s Kizza Besigye. 

But a David-like Opposition or group will also resort to fake news, alleging the President is sacrificing children, has ordered a massacre he didn’t, is plotting to steal a community’s land, has done a corrupt deal with a foreign company, or was behind a car accident in which a famous person died.

By so doing, they heighten hatred for the Big Man, and diminish him. A fellow who loses the affection of a beautiful woman to a rival, will spread false stories about the victor on social media; a woman whose boyfriend takes off with her friend, will unleash fiery lies about them on Facebook or Instagram.

Nativists groups fearing they are being out-numbered by immigrants will spread conspiracies and apocalyptic tales about them, and the liberal politicians who support them. Liberal groups will do the same to loony conservative politicians and forces. The actors understand information asymmetry, or have a savvy of social prejudices and psychological needs.

No one had paid attention to the distribution of MPs in Uganda by region. But the creators of the infographic, also understood there is a yearning to see Museveni’s regime as evil and unjust, and supplied the information that feeds the need.

In the 1960s, as this column reported before, one of the big stories in Uganda, especially in the south, was about alleged mysterious appearances of a giant red lizard called embalasasa (red‐franked skink lygosoma). Being red, the embalasasa is unsettling, even if it wasn’t big. Milton Obote, in the wake of his government’s attack on the Buganda royal place, Lubiri, was deeply unpopular in the region.

Embalasasa would cause panic, and had the State scrambling to deal with sightings. No sighting was ever reported, but it became a force the Obote government couldn’t control. It embodied the regime’s powerlessness.

During Idi Amin’s rule, a tormented country resorted to similar subterfuge. There were so many political rumours that caused panic, Amin’s government actually banned rumours. It was common all over the country for the charismatic former Obote army chief Oyite Ojok to allegedly appear in barracks, in streets, in State House, everywhere.

Amin soldiers would flee roadblocks on rumours of Oyite approaching, and military operations would be carried to arrest him. There was no Oyite. He was ghost that a helpless country threw up to gaslight Amin and make his terror machine feel small.

In the early 1980s, when Museveni was fighting the bush war in Luweero, he caused similar mayhem. There were wild stories about Museveni appearing as a rat or cat, sneaking into Bank of Uganda, and walking out with sacks of money to fight his war.

There were stampedes and mass deployment to catch a Museveni who had been “seen” buying stuff in Bwaise.
Mobile phones, the internet, and social media have highly technologised these old wild rumours. What hasn’t changed are the small people, the tormented and oppressed, playing David and using them as weapons, in this case, against Goliath Tibuhaburwa.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is a journalist,
writer and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. Twitter@cobbo3

The fast growing no fee money transfer service Taptap Send has announced it has launched itsservices to Kenya. This will enable the diaspora in the UK and Europe to send money to their loved ones instantly and affordably straight to Mpesa wallets or bank accounts.

“Taptap Send is on a mission to make remittances to Kenya easier and cheaper in line with the UN sustainable development goal (<3% of total value transferred).

Taptap Send can achieve this with secure technology, online only transactions and community focused marketing. Using word of mouth referrals both by our friends and family in Kenya and influential community leaders is our way of keeping remittance costs down for everyone,” Darryl Abraham, Africa growth director.

Remittance makes up a significant part of Africa’s main source of currency, contributing to above 5% of GDP in 15 African countries.The Central Bank of Kenya notes that on average Kenya received more than 200,000 USD monthly, which reached its peak in June 2020 at 288,544 USD. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, more than ever Africans have leaned into providing support back home through affordable digital finance platforms including Taptap Send.

These remittances help thousands of Kenyan families pay for essential needs such as healthcare, household bills and education. In line with the UN sustainability goal of reducing the cost of transfers to less than 3% of migrant remittance costs by 2030, Taptap Send has since 2018 contributed to this by providing the opportunity for migrants from the UK to send money home within this threshold.

The app is available for download in the UK on the Apple Store and Google play store for free here. New customers can receive an additional £5 on their first send by using the code PRESS. Taptap Send is VC-backed (including by Reid Hoffman), rapidly growing app-based solution that lets immigrants send money back home to emerging markets instantly and at very low prices.

Since launching in summer 2018, Taptap Send has moved tens of millions of dollars and reached hundreds of thousands of customers. Taptap Send is live in seven European countries, supporting payments into Senegal, Mali, Zambia, Guinea, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, and Bangladesh; with lots more countries launching soon.

Tanzania has barred institutions from talking about the novel coronavirusThis was after one college produced a document warning students of the potential presence of the virus in the country.

While denouncing the University Vice Chancellor’s warning, the government warned all institutions against using the government emblems whenever they express their personal opinion.

Professor Elifasi Tozo Bisanda warned the student community of the virus and also expressed his concerns in the recent deaths that involved several university scholars. The government however despised the warning and urged the student to continue with their normal study.

“The ministry is issuing a warning to officials and staff of the ministry of education, science and technology, and its institutions to refrain from using government emblems when expressing personal opinions,” reads a statement from the government

KDRTV understands that several institutions including churches have hinted at the presence of Covid-19 in Tanzania, however, the current administration headed by President John Pombe Magufuli has maintained that Tanzania is free of Covid-19. 

The U.S. has also said that there is a higher possibility the there is coronavirus in Tanzania and advised its citizens against traveling to the country. There a section of Tanzanians who are thinking that it is time to break the silence now. There are have been concerns of deaths that have not clear causes and many of them are believed to have been caused by the pandemic. KDRTV

Photo Radio Tamazuj

 

At least six Ugandan nationals and four South Sudanese have been arrested in Pajok of the defunct Ayachi County in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state for illegal timber logging.

The suspects arrested over the weekend were brought to the state headquarters police central division in Torit on Monday for further investigations and trial.

In August last year, Eastern Equatoria State Governor Louis Lobong Lojore issued an order banning what he described as rampant logging in the state.

Maj. Justine Kleopus Takuru Yanga the area police spokesperson told Radio Tamazuj this afternoon that this is the fifth reported case of logging in the state.

“These people are 10 in number, four are South Sudanese from Acholi tribe and we have six foreigners from Uganda. So these people entered the forest and after cutting a big number of trees there, the information reached the government. The executive director plus the responsible people there arrested these people, and they did not have a letter of approval,” he said.

Kleopus revealed that the suspects claim they had sought permission from the community, a process he says is wrong.

“The state had issued a decree that nobody should cut trees anyhow even the community should not. They should write a letter to the state there is a committee here formed that will study the reasons for cutting trees and if it is for the development in the state, the governor will approve but these people went in an unprocedural way," he explained. 

The police officer added that two logging machines and a motorcycle were confiscated at the crime scene.

2nd Lt. Michael Koko, the Chief Inspector of Police in Ayachi said the illegal loggers were arrested through the cooperation of local youth.

"We were sent by the executive director to confirm but residents there denied and said it was not true. So we came back. But again we got information that the youth of Pajok went to the forest and arrested the loggers. So we went back and found the suspects were already arrested,” he said.

Koko stressed that the order will remain in force and anyone found disobeying it will face the law.

The ban imposed by the state governor cited rampant logging by both individuals and communities present in the counties of Magwi, Torit, and Ikotos. - Radio Tamazuj

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