News in Brief 02 April 2015 (AM)

2 Apr 2015

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The top United Nations envoy for Afghanistan has condemned “in the strongest terms” today’s deadly suicide attack in the city of Khost, in the country’s far east, which reportedly left dozens of people dead and injured.

Suicide attack in Afghanistan condemned by UN

A suicide attack in Khost Matun city in Afghanistan’s Khost province on Thursday has been strongly condemned by the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).

A suicide bomber reportedly detonated his explosive devices amongst a group of civilians participating in a peaceful demonstration, killing 16 people and injuring at least 40, including four children.

UNAMA says the attack took place in the vicinity of the Khost Provincial Governor’s residence, where a large group of civilians had gathered to protest against corruption.

Pacific cyclones highlight existential threat of climate change

Concerns are being raised by the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction about the future development of Small Island Developing States in the face of extreme weather events.

Margareta Wahlström on Thursday said it is “remarkable” that in the past two weeks both Vanuatu and Micronesia have been forced to declare a state of emergency.

The countries experienced separate Category 5 cyclones which have caused several deaths, population displacement and widespread destruction.

Millions of people could soon be affected across the Philippines by Typhoon Maysak depending on its strength when it makes expected landfall.

Indonesia gets lowest possible evaluation from Human Right Committee

Indonesia has received the lowest possible evaluation from the UN Human Rights Committee for its failure to respond to a call in 2013 to stop executing prisoners for drug-related crimes.

After a review of Indonesia’s human rights record, the Committee had urged the State to reinstate the de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

It has also called on the Indonesian authorities to ensure that if capital punishment was maintained, it was only for the most serious crimes, which do not include drug-related offences.

Indonesia has argued that given the severe challenges posed by drug-related crimes, it considers such offences as among the most serious to which the death penalty may apply.

Cathrine Hasselberg United Nations.

Duration: 2’03″

Filed under .

UN Peacekeeper Killed in Lebanon

This could heat up. Fast. “Two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper were killed on Wednesday in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel, one of the most violent clashes between the two sides since a 2006 war. The soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired five missiles at a convoy of Israeli military vehicles on the frontier with Lebanon. The peacekeeper, serving with a U.N. monitoring force in southern Lebanon, was killed as Israel responded with air strikes and artillery fire, a U.N. spokesman and Spanish officials said.” (Reuters

Quote of the Day: Deputy OCHA Director Kyung-wha Kang, to the Security Council on humanitarian funding for Syria…“Needs continue to outpace response…Lack of funding, for example, for the winterization programme, means that hundreds of thousands among the 3.3 million people targeted for assistance have not received assistance, during this particularly harsh winter.” (UN News Center

Arguably the Biggest Story in Africa Today: Through a remarkable and nearly unprecedented set of circumstances, the final slot in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament will be decided old school: the drawing of lots. (Guardian


The African Union plans to launch an Ebola fund and disease control centre, officials said Wednesday, as aid agency Oxfam warned leaders needed to keep their promises to boost healthcare systems on the continent. (AFP

The World Bank says the three countries most affected by Ebola will suffer a combined $1.6 billion in economic losses in 2015 due to the ongoing outbreak. Unemployment rates are also expected to remain high, with cross-border traders, private-sector wage earners and the self-employed among the worst hit. (VOA

The largest Ebola unit ever built opened in the Liberian capital Monrovia with 120 beds on August 17 but was immediately overwhelmed, with staff forced to turn patients away at its gates, despite more than doubling its capacity. Five months later to the day it registered no patients at all for the first time, and staff this week marked a drastic retreat of an epidemic which has killed thousands by dismantling and burning the first tent put up at the clinic. (AFP

The Ebola crisis in West Africa is high on the agenda of this year’s African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Although there are increasing signs the outbreak is in decline, African leaders remain focused on recovery efforts and erasing the stigma the virus has left on the continent. (VOA


A Sudanese rebel group has taken six Bulgarians working with the U.N.’s World Food Program captive after their helicopter was forced to land in war-torn South Kordofan province in southern Sudan, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. (VOA

Madagascar’s government appealed for international aid on Wednesday after a tropical storm earlier this month devastated large swaths of the Indian Ocean island, causing damage worth around $40 million. (VOA

A suicide bomb attack near the contested Malian town of Tabankort killed at least nine people overnight, Tuareg rebel sources said on Wednesday, as violence intensified in the desert north of the West African country. (VOA

Tanzania’s president has reshuffled his cabinet following the departure of a fourth senior politician over a multimillion-dollar energy scandal. (Guardian

More than half a million people in Cameroon’s Far North region are in need of urgent food aid, the government says, as attacks by militant group Boko Haram have forced farmers to abandon their fields, shut down local markets, and halted the movement of people and goods. (IRIN

More than 100 people have been killed and 150,000 displaced by floods in Mozambique, a senior government official said on Wednesday, as southern Africa counts the human and economic costs of this month’s torrential rains. (Reuters

Islamic extremists are rampaging through villages in northeastern Nigeria, killing, burning and looting with no troops protecting civilians, fleeing villagers said Wednesday. (AP

A surge in foreign debt issuance by African nations has left some fragile economies exposed to the risk of billions of dollars in foreign exchange related losses if the U.S. currency strengthens abruptly, a think-tank said on Wednesday. (Reuters


The head of the United Nations agency aiding Palestinians in rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed in last year’s 50-day war with Israel urged international donors Wednesday to live up to their pledges and provide urgently needed funding. (VOA

An Israeli rights group Wednesday criticised the government for what it called a deliberate policy of launching air strikes on homes that killed hundreds of civilians during last year’s Gaza war. (AFP

UN relief efforts in war-torn Syria are struggling to reach 40 percent of civilians in need and face a major funding shortfall, a senior UN aid official said Wednesday. (AFP

Dozens of Palestinians attacked a United Nations compound in Gaza City following the world body’s suspension of an aid program for victims of last year’s war. (AP

A UN peacekeeper from Spain was killed Wednesday in southern Lebanon, a source at the Spanish embassy said, as the Israeli military shelled border areas after a Hezbollah attack. (AFP

The Islamic State group has suffered “devastating” blows in Syria’s Kobane and on several Iraqi fronts, but analysts warn such victories in the fight against the jihadists cannot be replicated everywhere. (AFP


Less than three weeks since Sri Lanka voted in a new president, rights activists and other NGOs say there are already encouraging signs that they may have more freedom to work under the new administration, including in the former conflict zone in the north. (IRIN

Work to set up an autonomous Muslim region in the Philippines to end a 45-year insurgency has been suspended and may be abandoned altogether because of a clash in which more than 50 people were killed, legislators said on Wednesday. (Reuters

Washington is concerned about press freedom in China, a senior US diplomat said in Beijing Wednesday as some US news organisations face repercussions over their reporting of issues deemed sensitive by the ruling Communist Party. (AFP

The Americas

The Mexican government says it is now a matter of “historical truth” that 43 college students who have been missing since last September were murdered by drug traffickers who believed they were members of a rival gang. (VOA

Parents of 43 college students missing since last year angrily rejected the Mexican attorney general’s declaration that investigators are certain the youths were killed and incinerated after being seized by police in the southern state of Guerrero. (AP

The worst drought to hit Brazil’s biggest city in decades may leave residents with water service only two days a week. (AP


Angelina Jolie on the Syrians and Iraqis Who Can’t Go Home (NY Times

Election anxiety promises a new year of frustrations in Myanmar (GlobalPost

The long-term impact of war: the urgent challenge of sexual and gender based violence (Development Progress

Here’s what moviegoers in Baghdad think of ‘American Sniper’ (GlobalPost

Are you or your org guilty of Trickle-Down Community Engagement? (Nonprofit With Balls

The saddest thing in the world is not poverty; it’s loss of dignity (The Guardian

Africa in 2030: A future of smartphones, drones and digital witchdoctors (Mail & Guardian Africa

Obama, Modi Visits More Symbolism Than Substance (Al Jazeera America



Maiduguri Under Assault

A large and strategically important Nigerian city came under heavy assault by Boko Haram fighters as John Kerry met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Lagos. If Maiduguri falls to Boko Haram, it could portend a massive humanitarian emergency.  “People in Maiduguri woke up to the sound of explosions and heavy gunfire as Boko Haram launched a pre-dawn attack on this strategic city. Ground troops, air strikes and local vigilantes managed to stop the jihadists from penetrating the city. Much of the fighting was around a barracks. In a separate attack the town of Monguno was captured – the latest to be seized by the group. With the insurgents gaining more and more territory Maiduguri is increasingly vulnerable. It is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes because of the conflict.” (BBC

Post-Ebola Reforms Coming to the WHO?

The World Health Organization held a major meeting on Sunday that took a sharp look at the failures of the WHO’s response to the ebola outbreak. Member states proposed new measures to prevent a repeat of this disaster. “In a resolution adopted by WHO’s executive board, nearly 60 countries called on the agency to take “immediately necessary steps” to enact measures including the creation of an emergency fund to respond to health crises. Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sally Davies, announced the U.K. would donate $10 million to the proposed fund. The resolution also called for the establishment of a reserve of health workers to battle epidemics, but didn’t specify how large this workforce would be. WHO conceded that, despite public expectations that it can respond quickly to health emergencies, it simply is not designed to do that.” (AP


South African authorities have re-established order — for now — in Soweto and other Johannesburg townships, after a week of looting of foreign-owned shops and violence in which four people were killed. (AP

Around 1,500 people including the prime minister marched Saturday in Senegal against caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. (AFP

Democratic Republic of Congo’s lawmakers will remove part of an electoral reform bill that the opposition says was aimed at keeping President Joseph Kabila in power, the head of the national assembly said on Sunday. (Reuters

Zambia’s defence minister Edgar Lungu, of the ruling Patriotic Front, has narrowly won the country’s presidential race, the electoral commission announced after an election marred by delays. (AFP

Nigerian Sunni jihadist group Boko Haram released about 190 captives, who returned to their community in the northeast state of Yobe between Friday and Saturday, while other people were still being held, local and state officials said. (Reuters

A steep fall in Ebola cases in Liberia will make it hard to prove whether experimental vaccines work in a major clinical trial about to start in the country, the head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health said. (Reuters

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced a cabinet reshuffle on Saturday, after two ministers and the attorney general lost their jobs over an energy scandal that caused Western donors to delay aid. (Reuters

This month marks the first anniversary at the helm of the Central African Republic for interim President Catherine Samba-Panza. Elected as sectarian violence raged across the country, she has a Herculean task: to end the civil war and put the country back on the right track. (VOA


A woman protester was shot dead in central Cairo on Saturday, security sources said, one day before the anniversary of the popular uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. (Reuters

The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, will head the government team in peace talks due to open in Moscow on Monday, a pro-government newspaper reported. (AFP


Nepal’s ruling coalition on Sunday took a step toward drafting a new constitution, angering the opposition and pushing the Himalayan country further into political turmoil. (AP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a climate deal between the United States and China does not put pressure on India, but that global warming itself was reason to take action. (Reuters

More than 30 police commandos were killed in a clash with Muslim insurgents Sunday in the southern Philippines in the biggest single-day combat loss for Filipino forces in many years, officials said. (AP

The Americas

U.N. officials are encouraging Haiti to hold transparent and inclusive elections as they praise the government for trying to stabilize the country’s political situation. (AP

Venezuela: Thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro marched in the capital Saturday to denounce the socialist government for a deepening economic crisis marked by widespread shortages and galloping inflation. (AP

A journalist credited with being the first to report the gunshot death of federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman has left Argentina because of fear for his safety. (AP


On deflated balls and public attention (Humanosphere

The Potential Impact Of Big Data On Medicine (NPR

State-building and local autonomy in South Sudan (Rachel Strohm

Leveraging Tech Innovations in Development (CFR

Justice for the Central African Republic? (UN Dispatch

Technology and structural discrimination: thoughts on a recent discussion (Find What Works

Grading the 2015 Bill and Melinda Gates letter on poverty alleviation (The Washington Post

Why the gender employment gap hampers prosperity (The Guardian

The great Ethiopian media crackdown – and why this affects all Africans (Daily Maverick

The Pledge (Owen abroad



These Countries Have the Worst “Hidden Hunger”

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The Global Hunger Index released its annual report of micronutrient deficiency, otherwise known as “hidden hunger.” In all 16 countries have “alarming” levels of this undernourishment. Burundi, which tops the Global Hunger Index for the third year in a row, is followed by Eritrea, East Timor and Comoros. Some 805 million people around the world are still chronically undernourished, according to the report, despite progress in combating hunger – three years ago, the index recorded 26 countries with “alarming” or “extremely alarming” hunger levels. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa face the highest levels of hunger. Countries showing the largest improvement since 1990 include Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand and Vietnam.” (Reuters

Trouble for Tanzania…”International donors have suspended nearly $500 million in budget support to Tanzania in response to claims that senior government officials siphoned off funds from the country’s central bank under the guise of energy contracts.” (Guardian

Today’s Quote of the Day is cause for concern:  I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries.” — WHO Director Margaret Chan.  (NYT

And in brighter news…George Mitchell is on Mark’s Global Dispatches Podcast! He’s one of his generation’s greatest peacemakers (as in the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland) and tells Mark his life story.


Many Liberian health care workers on the frontline of the battle against Ebola ignored calls on Monday to strike over poor pay and working conditions, and most hospitals and clinics were operating normally, officials and charity workers said. (Reuters

As Liberia tries to end a months-long Ebola crisis, local and international media rights groups report an intensifying crackdown on journalists in the country. But some of those journalists say this is only a continuation of Liberia’s bad record on press freedom. (VOA

Women and children in South Sudan have been the victims of horrific sexual violence since the country plunged into conflict 10 months ago, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, said after a week-long visit. (VOA

One of Sudan’s main opposition parties will boycott elections set for April because a lack of democracy will not allow a fair vote, a senior party official said on Monday, diminishing the credibility of the ballot. (Reuters

Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party and its presidential candidate look likely to win elections this week despite voters’ dissatisfaction with graft and inequality in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies that boasts abundant energy reserves. (Reuters

Madagascar’s former president has been arrested, just hours after he returned to the country following more than five years in exile. (VOA

Ugandan health officials said Monday that they are continuing to monitor five people feared to have contracted the Ebola-like Marburg virus, even though all suspected cases so far have tested negative. (AP

Somalia’s government remains riddled with corruption while Shabab Islamists are as deadly as ever, United Nations investigators warned in a damning report seen by AFP Monday. (AFP

Thousands of northerners who experienced human rights abuses during the occupation of Mali’s north are struggling to find redress amidst concerns that a climate of impunity is continuing and the government’s control in many areas of the north is at best shaky. (IRIN


International donors pledged $5.4bn towards the rebuilding of Gaza after the recent 50-day war, but 100,000 Palestinians will still be homeless in the territory as winter arrives. (Guardian

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon is chastising Israel for allowing settlements to advance in east Jerusalem and calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for leadership to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. (VOA

Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria’s border town of Kobani, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the west. (GlobalPost

Pledges of $2.7 billion for reconstructing the Gaza Strip may seem impressive, but huge challenges lie ahead as the Palestinian government had asked for more and its prime minister questioned Monday whether all of the money would actually arrive. (AP

United Nations aid convoys cannot reach vast areas of Syrian territory under Islamic State control, a senior U.N. official told Reuters, although the Damascus government is allowing better access to besieged areas elsewhere. (Reuters


Activists and supporters of Pakistani political parties October 12 took to streets of the southern port city of Karachi to protest against shelling on Pakistani border villages by neighbor India. (VOA

Three of the Philippines largest child rights organizations, Save the Children, Plan International, and World Vision, unite to push passage of House Bill 5062 or the “Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act,” which calls for a comprehensive plan to be put in place to protect the rights of children in disasters and emergencies.​ 1w27H7f

Hong Kong authorities were accused for the second time of hiring thugs after clashes at democracy protest site. (GlobalPost

The death toll from a powerful cyclone which battered India’s eastern coastline rose to 24 on Monday, as the storm weakened and moved inland, leaving a swathe of destruction and triggering fears heavy rains would bring flash floods. (Reuters

The Americas

A Texas health worker has contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian who died of the disease in Dallas last week, raising concern about how U.S. medical guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of the disease were breached. (Reuters

Severe drought has struck California for a third year. The lack of water is affecting farms, cities and small communities. California’s Central Valley is usually fertile. (VOA

Scientists here are warning Caribbean countries, where the fisheries sector is an important source of livelihoods and sustenance, that they should pay close attention to a new international report on ocean acidification. (IPS


The Priest, the Killers, and a Looming Genocide (The New Yorker

Visualizing how Syria’s war undermines health (Humanosphere

A risky business: Aid workers in danger (Devex

Understanding the World Bank’s Estimate of the Economic Damage of Ebola to West Africa (Center For Global Development

The Disturbing Expansion of the Military-Industrial Complex (IPS

Why the IMF’s poor forecasting matters (The Interpreter

“Should I go into international development?” (Lessons I Learned

What does the Ebola crisis mean for long-term progress in Sierra Leone and Liberia? (The Guardian

Leading global banks hop aboard infrastructure train (Humanosphere

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Funding for Safe from the Start

Today, Secretary Kerry announced that the United States is making available an additional $12 million for Safe from the Start to strengthen prevention and response to gender-based violence from the onset of humanitarian emergencies. Secretary Kerry announced the new funding at a high-level event for the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative launched by the United Kingdom in 2013 and now led by the United States. Safe from the Start is a joint effort of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and represents the U.S. commitment to the Call to Action.

Today’s announcement brings the total committed funding for Safe from the Start to more than $22 million since Secretary Kerry launched this initiative in September 2013. These programs are responding to immediate needs in current crises and laying the groundwork for system-wide change to prevent and respond to gender based violence in future emergencies. Additional partnerships and programs will be announced in the coming months.

Funding and programs for Safe from the Start include the following support to date from the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM):

  • UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)- More than $7 million to support the first and second year of the agency’s multiyear Safe from the Start project. This will support hiring new staff, training throughout the agency, and launching an innovation challenge across field offices to develop new gender based violence projects.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)– $5 million to support the ICRC’s activities to strengthen its response to sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and other situations of violence.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)– More than $4 million to support non-governmental programs to bolster gender based violence prevention and response for refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and Syria, and to develop and share new research and best practices from those projects.
    • This includes an award to the Women’s Refugee Commission to develop a “strategic roadmap” for the Call to Action, in consultation with relevant stakeholders. This project will build a common framework and strategy for strengthening, prioritizing, and tracking commitments made through the Call to Action process.

USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), part of the agency’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, has supported the following global programs for Safe from the Start:

  • UNICEF– More than $2 million to strengthen UNICEF’s innovative efforts to ensure that prevention and response to gender-based violence are central to the agency’s relief efforts, especially for children.
  • Non-governmental organizations and other UN agencies– Nearly $4 million to equip aid workers across different sectors with the skills needed to prevent and mitigate the effects of gender-based violence, deploy gender and protection specialists to crisis settings, and support cutting edge research on social norms and new models of care for survivors.
  • The Real Time Accountability Partnership– USAID, along with the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF, UNFPA, OCHA, and UNHCR will team up and test a model response in two current crises, using the results to establish clear benchmarks on accountability for timely gender-based violence prevention and response by the humanitarian community.


These Safe from the Start funds and programs complement other comprehensive efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in new and protracted humanitarian crises, in line with the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence Globally and the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

  • In FY 2014 alone, State/PRM dedicated nearly $15 million to other gender-based violence programs. These targeted programs build on PRM’s core funding to international organizations and their work to address gender-based violence and women’s empowerment.
  • USAID/OFDA provided more than $20 million in FY 2014 to support gender-based violence prevention and response efforts in the following countries: the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.

For more information on the Safe from the Start initiative and U.S. leadership of the Call to Action, please visit:

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Most of 2013 terrorist attacks took place in only a few countries

TerrorismMost of 2013 terrorist attacks took place in only a few countries

Published 28 August 2014

The majority of terrorist attacks occurring in 2013 remained isolated in just a few countries, according to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is generated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). In 2013, 11,952 terrorist attacks resulted in 22,178 fatalities (including perpetrator deaths) and 37,529 injuries across 91 countries. More than half of all attacks (54 percent), fatalities (61 percent), and injuries (69 percent) occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The majority of terrorist attacks occurring in 2013 remained isolated in just a few countries, according to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is generated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland. With the addition of nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, the database now includes more than 125,000 events dating back to 1970 and, according to START, it remains the most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorist attacks around the world.

2013 terrorist attacks
START says that in 2013, 11,952 terrorist attacks resulted in 22,178 fatalities (including perpetrator deaths) and 37,529 injuries across 91 countries. More than half of all attacks (54 percent), fatalities (61 percent), and injuries (69 percent) occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

By wide margins, the highest number of fatalities (7,046), attacks (2,852) and injuries (15,736) took place in Iraq. The average lethality of attacks in Iraq was 34 percent higher than the global average and 30 percent higher than the 2012 average in Iraq.

“It is important to note that increases in terrorism in 2013 were geographically concentrated in many of the same places which saw high levels of political violence in 2012,” said Gary LaFree, START director and professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “The list of countries that experienced the most attacks remained virtually unchanged over the past two years-terrorism is generally getting worse in the places where it has been bad for several years.”

While terrorism remained heavily concentrated in the same parts of the world, the countries within those regions experienced some notable changes. In 2013, total attacks increased for Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Lebanon; and decreased for Nigeria and Turkey. The most lethal single attack in 2013 took place in September in Nigeria when members of Boko Haram set up illegal checkpoints and killed 142 civilians.

10 countries with the most terrorist attacks in 2013


































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