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WFP Cuts Refugees’ Food Ratios In Rwanda As Funding Declines

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The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced plans to reduce food assistance to refugees in Rwanda by a dramatic 60% 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.

She added that, “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 Rwf7,600 (US$ 7.72) under a full ration allocation, which provides the basic foods to meet minimum nutrition requirements for that person.

WFP requires US$9million 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 said in a statement to Taarifa that it 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.

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National

South Kivu Security Agents Trained On Human Rights

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A total of 91 officers from different security services in the province of South Kivu have completed training aimed at improving their scope and capacity on human rights, sexual violence, law and criminal procedure as well as on human rights of the arrested person.

The six-day training commenced on Monday and concluded on Saturday facilitated by the Joint United Nations Office (UNJHRO) and organized in collaboration with the Monusco Police, UNPOL.

Participants in this training came from the Judicial Police and the Congolese National Police (PNC), the National Intelligence Agency and the General Directorate of Migration (DGM).

Discussions during this training dwelt on matters related to the work of OPJ, especially on the pleadings they pose.

The trainees made some recommendations during the closing ceremony. These include: creating a mechanism to protect the OPJs from harassment by the military auditors; Facilitate the implementation of continuous refresher training; Establish a schedule of regular meetings and organize legal mornings and meetings with the hierarchical heads of the OPJs.

And finally, ensure regular monitoring of the impact of human rights training through grassroots consultation.

This training was triggered by several cases of denunciations which reached the UNJHRO office and the numerous visits to dungeons and amigos

With prosecutors, the UNJHRO reported on cases of arbitrary and unlawful arrests, failing to respect human rights and the person arrested in terms of pre-trial detention.

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National

Italy Demands For Answers On Assassination Of Envoy

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The Italian government has demanded for answers on the brutal assassination of its envoy that occurred in troubled Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Monday, Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio, his driver and his bodyguard were shot dead in Kibumba, in the North Kivu. They were part of a convoy of two World Food Program (WFP) vehicles.

The dynamics of the ambush are also being investigated by the Public Prosecutor of Rome. A team of our Carabinieri del Ros, delegated by the Prosecutor’s Office, has already flown to Goma for an initial investigative mission.

“We have formally asked the WFP and the UN to open an investigation that clarifies what happened, the reasons behind the safety device used and who was responsible for these decisions. We also explained that we expect clear and exhaustive answers as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the diplomat’s widow claims that her husband was “betrayed” by “someone close”. Someone who “knew his whereabouts spoke, sold him and betrayed him,” she said, without giving further details.

Di Maio added, “We owe the truth first of all to our fallen. But the best way to honor the memory of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci is also to continue to strengthen our political attention towards the African continent, in which Luca strongly believed, with passion and dedication.”

Luca Attanasio and Vittorio Iacovacci were shot dead, by two bullets each, in the fire fight between their attackers and the Congolese rangers, who intervened to rescue the Virunga forest.

These are the first results of the autopsies carried out at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome on the bodies of the ambassador and the carabiniere, killed Monday in an ambush in the DRC.

The first autopsy results therefore support the hypothesis of an attempted kidnapping that ended badly  and not of an attack aimed at killing – sent to the air by the unexpected arrival of the rangers.

However, they still don’t clarify which weapons the shots came from. In essence, it is not yet clear whether the two Italians were victims of friendly fire or not.

Attanasio was wounded in the abdomen, the blows pierced the body from left to right, without however leaving war residues: in fact both the entry and exit holes have been identified.

The diplomat, died an hour later in the hospital of the UN Monusco mission in Goma. Iacovacci, who instead died on the spot, was first hit by a shot in the hip area, then by a second shot that first touched the forearm, fracturing it, and then stopped at the base of the neck.

And this is where an AK-47 bullet, a Kalashnikov, was spotted. According to the government of Kinshasa – which accuses the Hutus of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (Fdlr) of attempted kidnapping “for extortion purposes” – the six assailants were armed with “five Kalashnikovs and a machete”. But the same automatic rifles would also be supplied to the guards of the national park where the ambush took place.

For this reason, the Carabinieri del Ros, in Goma, intend to check the rangers’ weapons and compare them to the bullet found in Iacovacci’s body and to those found on the cars of the World Food Program convoy, attacked in the militia-infested North Kivu province.

The Congolese driver, Mustapha Milambo, was also killed in the ambush, while the other 4 members of the WFP, initially taken to the forest by the kidnappers together with the two Italians, are safe.

Kinshasa has instructed that all foreign diplomats present on the Congolese national territory are from now on obliged to report any movement within the country to the government.

The local authorities, in the hours following the attack, had made it known that they were unaware of the fact that Attanasio was in that area, and therefore that they could not protect him.

According to researcher Christoph Vogel, who has worked for the Conflict Research Program at the London School of Economics (United Kingdom) and Ghent University. (Belgium). In 2019, around 130 armed groups existed in Kivu alone, 122 were listed across the area (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika) in 2020.

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CORONA VIRUS

Kagame Calls Rich Nations “Hypocrits”

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There is almost no COVID-19 vaccine left in stock for poor countries after wealthy nations ordered for billions of shots from the manufactures, World Health Organisation (WHO), said.

Reports say that wealthy nations ordered “enough shots to vaccinate their populations more than once” yet poor countries have not received enough or anything all.

President Kagame criticised the behaviour of rich countries and described it as a double standard.

“This is hypocrisy and double standards we have always talked about,” he said on Tuesday evening after WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed concerns that rich nations are undermining efforts to deal with the oandemic. This is, Kagame added, “Just one of the many and consequential examples.”

Manufacturers had signed a deal with the UN under a US$7.5 billion program funded by the G7 to extend jabs to vulnerable communities in the spirit of “affordable and equitable access to vaccines” and treatments for COVID-19.

However, it turns out, wealth nations, not yet mentioned, have purchased almost all the available vaccines in stock, and are hording the shots while the test of the world remain exposed to the virus.

Dr. Tedros has continues to rally world leaders to check their moral compass and insisted that the world faces a “catastrophic moral failure” if COVID-19 vaccines are not distributed fairly.”

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