BEIRUT – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is radically expanding its support to a key Lebanese social assistance program, with the goal of helping 270,000 people get through the triple shock caused by economic crisis, the COVID-19 lockdown and the blasts at Beirut port.

The U.N. World Food Programme currently supports 15,000 families (105,000 people) who benefit from the Ministry of Social Affair’s (MoSA) National Poverty Targeting Programme (NPTP) and will increase its scope to reach an additional 35,000 families by the end of 2020. The NPTP is Lebanon’s only national social assistance program.

“Now more than ever, impoverished families in Lebanon need a safety net to get through the month. The devastating blast that ripped through Beirut added to the woes of thousands of families already struggling to stay afloat,” said Abdallah Alwardat, Country Director and Representative of the U.N. World Food Programme in Lebanon.

“This is a critical period for the country, and we need to show solidarity with the people of Lebanon,” he added. “The U.N. World Food Programme’s action so far has ranged from cash assistance to supporting food security and importing wheat flour — all with the aim of standing with Lebanon.”

Through this program, the U.N. World Food Programme provides a monthly assistance of $46 per person for a family of six. This money is transferred to an e-card that families can use to pay for their food when they are at one of the U.N. World Food Programme-contracted shops across Lebanon. The selection of eligible families is checked by the U.N. World Food Programme through its collaboration with MoSA to ensure the highest levels of accountability and transparency and that aid reaches those most in need.

“We cannot lose time, the quicker we can do this the better. We must be objective and transparent and in so, we will rebuild the trust with our people,” said Dr. Ramzi Moucharafieh, Caretaker Minister of Social Affairs, adding: “As a physician, I learned a lot while working at MoSA, about our people and leadership. People should not be struggling to get something that is a basic human right or because we don’t have resources. This Ministry is called Social Affairs for a reason. Who takes care of people when they go to hospital? When they need help with education or food? The whole system needs to be worked out.”

The food e-card is strictly used in any of the 460 U.N. World Food Programme-contracted shops found throughout Lebanon. These shops were chosen as per U.N. World Food Programme standards where special attention is given to the amount and quality of food items, hygiene and acceptable prices. The shops are regularly monitored by U.N. World Food Programme staff. The U.N. World Food Programme also monitors the overall conditions of beneficiary families to ensure that cash assistance provided under the NPTP is achieving its objectives in enabling families to meet their food needs.

Supporting this program is possible thanks to the generous contributions of donor countries such as Germany, the European Union, Norway, Italy and France.

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The U.N. 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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media @WFPLebanon

For more information, contact:

Malak Jaafar, WFP/ Lebanon, Mob. +961 76 320 761
Abeer Etefa WFP/ Cairo, Mob. +20 106 6663 4352
Reem Nada, WFP/ Cairo, Mob. +20 106 6663 4522

CAIRO – In support of Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity (MOSS), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started providing financial assistance to more than 40,000 mothers registered under the Ministry’s ‘Takaful and Karama’ program and their children under two years to prevent malnutrition and help families fulfill their nutritional needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is under the auspices of MOSS and is part of its social protection program the ‘First 1,000 Days’ that is implemented in partnership with the U.N. World Food Programme.

Thanks to a contribution of $220,000 from the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (SFSD) towards this program, the U.N. World Food Programme will be providing food assistance through cash transfers for more than 4,000 of these women and their children. This support is a first-of-its-kind between SFSD and the U.N. World Food Programme towards food security for such vulnerable communities.

“The ‘1000 Days of Life’ Program is key to the Ministry of Social Solidarity as it provides support to vulnerable pregnant and nursing mothers and their children under two guaranteeing healthy nutrition during a critical stage in the child’s development timeline. The negative effect of inadequate nutrition during this time is irreversible making this program a pivotal one,” said Minister of Social Solidarity Nivine El Kabbag.

“The effects of inadequate nutrition place a great burden on the heath and education services of the country as it limits the level of productivity of its citizens. It is therefore important to invest in the health and nutrition of the child from the beginning of the pregnancy and throughout the first two years of their life as this is considered an investment in the future of the country,” added Minister Nivine El Kabbag.

This assistance is part of the cooperation between the ministry and the U.N. World Food Programme working together to provide social protection to the most vulnerable communities and those most prone to the negative impacts of malnutrition; placing a huge economic burden on the country as a result of its impact on the health sector and the cognitive capabilities of the children and hence the productivity of the citizens.

“During these difficult times, it is critical to bring all efforts together to work towards supporting the most vulnerable who have been worst affected by the negative impact of this pandemic and WFP is supporting the government’s efforts to assist them,” said U.N. World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Egypt Menghestab Haile. “We are especially keen on supporting mothers and children so they can get through this difficult time and help secure a healthy and safe future for these families and future generations.”

More families are struggling to make ends meet with limited or affected income as a result of the pandemic. “Improving the wellbeing of Egyptians is one of Sawiris Foundation’s primary priorities. We strive to ensure that Egypt’s most disadvantaged citizens can secure their most basic needs, particularly at a time of emergency such as the COVID-19 crisis,” said Executive Director of SFSD Noura Selim. “Our collaboration with WFP and MOSS, reinforces our commitment to sustainable development and to helping the Egyptian people overcome this pandemic safely.”

The U.N. World Food Programme is the sole UN agency in Egypt providing food security to the most vulnerable populations and continues to count on the contributions of donors to sustain and scale up assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Egypt throughout its COVID-19 response and recovery phases.

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About WFP | The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future. | Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @WFP_AR and @WFP_MENA

About Sawiris Foundation for Social Development | The Sawiris Foundation for Social Development was established in 2001 as one of the first national donor foundations in Egypt with an endowment from the Sawiris Family aiming at supporting development projects and programs implemented by NGOs in partnership with the private and public sectors. The foundation focuses on promoting the participation and empowerment of Egypt’s most underprivileged communities and improving their conditions by focusing on job creation, provision of high-quality education, addressing priority health topics, and community development.

  • www.sawirisfoundation.org
  • www.facebook.com/SawirisFoundation
  • www.twitter.com/SawirisSFSD

Contact:

  • Christine Hanna, WFP/Cairo, email: christine.hanna@wfp.org
  • Wessam Ragab, Senior Media & Communications Officer/Sawiris Foundation, email: ragab@Sawirisfoundation.org

Beirut – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley announced today that the organization is bringing 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour and a three-month supply of wheat into Lebanon to help replenish the country’s food reserves as part of a rapid logistics operation that will also involve setting up warehouses and mobile grain storage units.

Beasley’s visit comes as Lebanon faces a triple shock from the explosion, an economic meltdown and the impact of COVID-19 infection. He spent three days in Lebanon visiting the Ports of Beirut and Tripoli, witnessing food distributions and the provision of food in communal kitchens run by U.N. World Food Programme partner, Caritas. He also visited injured U.N. World Food Programme staff in the hospital and had meetings with the Lebanese president and top government officials where he stressed the U.N. World Food Programme’s operational autonomy and neutrality.

“It is hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the destruction caused by the explosion until you have seen it for yourself. I am heartbroken,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. “Today, because of the port explosion, thousands of people have been left homeless and hungry. The U.N. World Food Programme is racing to provide help for the most vulnerable and to prevent food shortages across the country.”

Lebanon imports nearly 85 percent of its food needs and – prior to the blast – the bulk of trade coming into the country passed through Beirut Port. The first wheat flour shipment that the U.N. World Food Programme is bringing to the country is due to arrive within the coming ten days.

As a result of the extensive damage to Beirut port, the U.N. World Food Programme will be bringing in equipment to render the port operational enough to facilitate the import of wheat and other bulk grains into Lebanon. The U.N. World Food Programme chief welcomed a third U.N. World Food Programme plane carrying generators and mobile storage units as an immediate solution.

“After examining the port we feel confident that we can establish an emergency operation very soon. There’s no time to waste as we are looking at a catastrophe in the making if we do not get food in and get this part of the port operational again,” he said.

According to the World Bank, one million people in Lebanon are currently living below the poverty line.

Beasley added that the blast that devastated Beirut Port turned the world’s eyes towards the country that had been suffering without being heard for over a year. “It’s time to listen,” he said.

The U.N. World Food Programme has procured 150,000 food parcels to distribute to families impacted by the economic crisis and COVID-19 lockdown measures. Since the blast, the U.N. World Food Programme distributed parcels to two local communal kitchens run by NGOs that are providing meals to victims of the blast and volunteers working to clean up the debris.

Building on its existing cash assistance program in Lebanon that serves more than 100,000 Lebanese, the U.N. World Food Programme will scale up its assistance by ten-fold to reach up to 1 million people across the country including Beirut residents who have been directly affected by the blast. The most vulnerable people will be identified in partnership with local and international NGOs who are engaged in relief efforts, with the assistance of community leaders and U.N. World Food Programme partners.

This emergency assistance the U.N. World Food Programme is launching in Lebanon requires a total of $235 million to provide food support to the most vulnerable as well as logistics and supply chain support to the country.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media  @wfp_MENA

Contact: 

  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867
  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993

London – The GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are expanding their partnership to help the world’s most vulnerable people. Through the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation program, which has been funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) since 2017, this three-year collaboration will primarily focus on the use of mobile money to deliver digital assistance through cash-based transfers to save lives in global emergencies, including pandemics and natural disasters.

“As humanitarian crises become more frequent, complex and protracted, the need to devise services that are scalable, replicable and efficient for humanitarian organizations has become crucial,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. “With over one billion mobile money accounts worldwide, the use of digital technology – specifically mobile money services – can provide the foundation for rapidly scaling cash transfers to safely and effectively deploy desperately-needed resources. Moreover, in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, mobile-based cash transfers can deliver support, while adhering to social distancing advice.”

“I am delighted that five years into our relationship, the GSMA is expanding its work with the U.N. World Food Programme and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), which we lead. This will scale up mobile money use for humanitarian assistance through U.N. World Food Programme’s cash-based transfer and beneficiary services management platform, SCOPE. It will have an enduring impact on all those facing food insecurity,” said Enrica Porcari, U.N. World Food Programme CIO and Director of Technology, and Chair of the ETC.

As well as being fast and efficient, digital assistance offers better security, tracking, transparency and, therefore, accountability. It also boosts financial inclusion by offering vulnerable people access to a range of digital financial services and more flexible choices about how to spend their assistance, which can, in turn, boost local businesses.

In 2020, the partnership aims to use mobile technology to deliver impactful assistance by working with regulatory authorities and local mobile network operators in key countries. With continued support from UK DFID, the partners will focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the digital cash transfer process, starting in Nigeria and expanding to other countries.

The GSMA will support the U.N. World Food Programme to access mobile money industry initiatives. First, the GSMA Mobile Money Certification initiative, which ensures a provider’s ability to deliver safe, secure and reliable services while protecting the rights of consumers. The Certification will enable the U.N. World Food Programme to fast-track due diligence on mobile money providers for the disbursement of cash-based assistance digitally to those affected by crises. Second, the Mobile Money API, a GSMA-led industry initiative, which provides a harmonized specification to access mobile money services across multiple providers and markets, making it simple and secure to integrate for assistance seamlessly.

The U.N. World Food Programme and the GSMA believe that digital inclusion, digital identity and integrated payment frameworks are critical to the success of any cash transfer initiative via mobile money services and of any response infrastructure established by Governments, humanitarian organizations and the private sector. Allowing large organizations to collaborate using services that meet global standards, also allows them to deliver swift and secure assistance to the growing number of people affected by conflict, climate change, natural disasters and health crises.

Giusti added, “The GSMA and WFP call on other humanitarian organizations to consider the use of mobile technology in their strategies. Well-tested mobile services, such as mobile money, allow for the safe delivery of support, particularly in fragile environments.”


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. | Follow on Twitter @WFPUSA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences. | Follow on Twitter @GSMA

Contact:

  • GSMA Press Office, pressoffice@gsma.com
  • U.N. World Food Programme Technology Media Enquiries, Jacqueline.martinezderosso@wfp.org

KABUL – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a contribution of $12 million from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance in support of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan, where the public health emergency is compounded by increasing levels of food insecurity and where many communities’ livelihoods are being obliterated.

This contribution from USAID will allow the U.N. World Food Programme to provide 95,000 families affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 with direct cash-transfers. Each family will receive $79 through cash-based transfers to partially cover their food needs for two months.

“COVID-19 has disrupted the livelihoods of families across the country relying on day labour, small trade or remittances, most of all in the cities where the lockdowns have left them without opportunities to earn money to buy their next meal,” said Peter Natiello, Mission Director for USAID Afghanistan. “Through our partnership with WFP, USAID will help reach some of the most vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in Afghanistan with food assistance.”

Vulnerable families in Herat City and the capital Kabul, the two urban centers of the country with the highest number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 and where the impact of the pandemic on the economy and individual livelihoods is being felt the most, will receive the assistance. The assistance will help keep these most vulnerable urban families from being forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as begging, child labor or eating fewer and smaller meals.

“We’re grateful for this generous contribution from USAID and the continued support for WFP in Afghanistan,” said U.N. World Food Programme Afghanistan Deputy Country Director and Officer-in-Charge Robert Kasca. “This contribution comes at critical times when we are facing additional needs of $53 million due to COVID-19. Without concerted action, Afghanistan could face its most devastating food security crisis in decades.”

At the outset of 2020, more than 12 million people were already facing acute food insecurity due to decades of conflict, natural disasters and growing poverty, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Analysis. Now, COVID-19 leaves millions of Afghans at risk of falling into hunger, faced with unusually high food prices and reduced employment opportunities.

With the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic, the U.N. World Food Programme is further providing services in health centers and through mobile teams to prevent and treat malnutrition in girls, boys and pregnant and lactating women. Under strict precautions to quell the spread of the coronavirus, the U.N. World Food Programme is continuing asset creation activities that help food-insecure families cover their food needs and build the resilience of their communities.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 in Afghanistan, the U.N. World Food Programme is working to reach 3 million people more than initially planned, creating additional funding needs of $53 million. In total, the U.N. World Food Programme plans to reach 10.3 million food-insecure Afghan people in 2020. Funding requirements from July to December 2020 for all of the U.N. World Food Programme’s  activities in Afghanistan are $218 million, of which $135 million remain to be resourced.

This latest contribution from USAID follows contributions of $49 million in 2020 and $92 million in 2019.

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The U.N. 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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media @wfp_AsiaPacific

Contact:

  • Wahid Amani, WFP/Kabul, wahidullah.amani@wfp.org, Tel. +93 70 600 48 84
  • Philippe Kropf, WFP/Kabul, philippe.kropf@wfp.org, Tel. +93 70 600 52 44

BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received a special contribution for its COVID-19 humanitarian response in Iraq from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). The generous funding of $6.25 million will help provide food assistance over three months for nearly 80,000 internally displaced Iraqis and 22,000 Syrian refugees, whose needs have grown as a result of the global pandemic.

Many people have lost their jobs during the crisis and no longer have an income. Through monthly cash transfers, mostly via mobile phone, the new U.S. contribution will help the U.N. World Food Programme support vulnerable internally displaced and refugee families in camps. Markets and camp stores are still open and functioning, so people can redeem their cash entitlements and buy the food they need.

In response to COVID-19, the U.N. World Food Programme has scaled up its assistance in Iraq to reach 76,000 refugees and 280,000 displaced people.

“During the crisis, we have stepped up our support for families who are no longer able to put food on the table and are relying more on humanitarian assistance,” said U.N. World Food Programme Iraq Representative Abdirahman Meygag.

“As our most generous contributor so far in 2020, WFP is grateful to USAID and the American people for enabling WFP to support families through these uncertain times.”

As part of the U.N. World Food Programme’s approach to cash assistance, new “cashless payments” are being introduced in camps in three governorates so far: Diyala, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. This allows people to buy food at camp shops directly through their mobile phones in a “contactless” manner. Cashless transactions reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus as well as avoid people’s unnecessary movement outside the camp.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @WFP_Iraq @wfp_mena

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Sharon Rapose, WFP, +44 7958 958 959, sharon.rapose@wfp.org
  • Islam Anbagi, WFP, +964 780 915 0989, islam.anbagi@wfp.org

ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a massive rise in the number of hungry people it plans to assist around the world, as the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic push millions more people into food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries.

“The frontline in the battle against the coronavirus is shifting from the rich world to the poor world,” said David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director.

“Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos. Without it, we could see increased social unrest and protests, a rise in migration, deepening conflict and widespread under-nutrition among populations that were previously immune from hunger.”

To tackle the rising tide of hunger, the U.N. World Food Programme is undertaking the biggest humanitarian response in its history, ramping up the number of people it assists to up to 138 million from a record 97 million in 2019. But sustained funding is urgently required to respond to the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people and support governments and partners as they curb the spread of the disease and deal with the fallout from the pandemic. The U.N. World Food Programme is appealing for $4.9 billion over the next six months for its lifesaving work in 83 countries.

Earlier U.N. World Food Programme projections on the number of people who would be pushed into food insecurity by COVID-19 have now been refined with real-time monitoring and assessments. The U.N. World Food Programme’s new estimates show that the number of hungry people in the countries where it operates could increase to 270 million before the year’s end – an 82 percent increase from before the pandemic took hold.

The crisis unfolds at a time when the number of severely food insecure people in the world had already risen nearly 70 percent over the past four years, compounding the effects of climate change, conflict and socio-economic shocks in regions of the world that had previously escaped severe levels of food insecurity.

The fallout from the pandemic is being felt hardest in Latin America, which has seen an almost three-fold rise in the number of people requiring food assistance, and among urban communities in low- and middle-income countries, which are being dragged into destitution by job losses and a precipitous drop in remittances. Spikes in hunger are also evident in West and Central Africa which has seen a 135% jump in the number of food insecure people as well as in Southern Africa where there has been a 90% rise.

Coronavirus infection levels are climbing at the very moment when food stocks in some parts of the world are already low. At this time of year, many farmers are awaiting crops from new harvests. Hurricane and monsoon seasons are getting underway, while record locust invasions in East Africa and outbreaks of conflict are adding to an already challenging outlook for the world’s hungry families.

“This unprecedented crisis requires an unprecedented response. If we do not respond rapidly and effectively to this viral threat, the outcome will be measured in an unconscionable loss of life, and efforts to roll back the tide of hunger will be undone,” noted Beasley.

The new face of hunger requires specialized responses, with a big increase in the use of cash-based transfers, and a heavy focus on urban settings. Over half of the U.N. World Food Programme’s new response plan will be delivered in cash and vouchers – allowing urban communities to meet their food needs in local markets – while providing a stimulus to economies.

As well as delivering lifesaving assistance on the front-lines of hunger, the U.N. World Food Programme is uniquely positioned to help governments assist and empower vulnerable communities through support to social protection systems, access to basic school-based and nutrition services, and support to food systems.

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Photos available here.  

For Broadcast quality footage contact Jonathan.Dumont@wfp.org

For questions, please contact:

  • Steve Taravella, WFP Washington, Mob. +1 202 770 5993
  • Shada Moghraby WFP New York, Mob: +1-929-289-9867

HARARE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed an additional $10 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for families in urban areas of Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The contribution will assist almost 100,000 people with monthly cash transfers equivalent to $13 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements.

A September 2019 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report said that more than 2.2 million people in cities and towns faced food insecurity, not least because of surging prices. COVID-19 has exacerbated economic instability, significantly impacting urban residents already living hand to mouth, many of them working multiple jobs in the informal sector. The U.N. World Food Programme forecasts that by March next year at least 3.3 million people – almost half (47%) the country’s urban population – will be food insecure.

“This additional funding underscores the strong commitment of the American people and government to the people of Zimbabwe,” said US Ambassador Brian A. Nichols.

“This generous and timely contribution will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and a still deteriorating economy,” said Eddie Rowe, the U.N. World Food Programme Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.

The U.N. World Food Programme is scaling up its urban assistance program to deliver monthly cash transfers to at least 550,000 Zimbabweans in 20 of the country’s most food insecure urban areas.

Read more about how the U.N. World Food Programme’s urban assistance helps families in Zimbabwe here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme saves lives in emergencies and changes lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @wfp_zimbabwe

For more information please contact (name.surname@wfp.org): Claire Nevill, WFP Harare, Tel.+263 787 200 557

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