Uganda says will probe alleged graft involving refugee aid

The Ugandan government says it is investigating several officials suspected of fraud, corruption and misuse of funds meant for refugees in the country.

The United Nations earlier this month urged Ugandan authorities to look into whether officials involved with the UNHCR and the World Food Programme defrauded donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting millions of dollars in food aid.

“UNHCR takes all allegations of corruption, fraud and misconduct very seriously. Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those involved in refugee response causes great harm to the people we care for and erodes public confidence and donor trust,” Valentin Tapsoba, Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa.

“It is also a disservice to the model policies of Uganda, a country hosting more than a million refugees.”

President Yoweri Museveni announced that whoever would be found guilty of embezzling money meant for refugees will be jailed.

The East African country has been praised for operating an open border policy which allows refugees to enjoy similar rights to those enjoyed by its own citizens, provides access to social services and allocates land for shelter and agriculture.

The corruption is reported to have been going on for about a year before it came to light.

The Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hilary Onek, told the media the government has given security agencies one month to gather evidence.

The Ugandan government has now introduced biometric re-verification for all refugees in the country.

Onek added the government felt betrayed and let down by officials who embezzled money meant for refugees.