Uganda says suspends officials suspected of relief aid fraud

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Photo courtesy UNHCR
Photo courtesy UNHCR

Ugandan authorities on Thursday said five officials, including a senior technocrat, had been suspended following a damning report by the United Nations which alleged possible fraud in the management of relief aid to the country.

Junior Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru confirmed that the five officials suspended included Apollo Kazungu, a commissioner in the office of the prime minister who has been in charge of refugees.

“Our zero-tolerance to corruption is not a slogan, we have asked the PS (permanent secretary) to get those suspected to step aside,” Ecweru said.

The allegations have drawn unusually pointed and public comments from foreign governments. Uganda responded by saying it had started an investigation into allegations that officials defrauded donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting food aid. The European Union also wants its anti-fraud office to conduct a separate investigation into the damning allegations.

Uganda hosts about 1.5 million refugees, most of who came from war-torn South Sudan.

Apart from South Sudanese refugees, about 400,000 others have also entered Uganda from Burundi, where political violence has killed hundreds of people, and from a deadly conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.