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Handle refugee money scandal decisively

Before getting into the depth of the disappearance of loan monies meant for medicines, reports have emerged in recent days relating to a new corruption scandal at the office of the prime minister (OPM).

The scandal, as reported in the press this week, relates to inflation of refugee numbers resulting in misuse of funds meant for provision of services to refugees.

Spot-checks conducted by the United Nations have alluded to ghost refugees, theft of logistics meant for refugees, and trafficking of refugee women and girls into forced marriages and/ or illegal repatriation or relocation.

Uganda is reported to be hosting between 1.2 and 1.7 million refugees mostly from war-ravaged South Sudan, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo. This number is now contested because of allegations of inflated numbers to attract more donor funding.

This is not the first time the country is hit by accusations of ghosts. Previously, cases of ghost soldiers, teachers, civil servants, and pensioners have been reported.

There have also been scenarios of ghost projects, schools and roads, inter alia. In all these scandals, the country has lost colossal amounts of money and the suspects have seldom been held to account.

What is peculiar and worrying about this scandal is how the inflated numbers went unnoticed by both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP), assuming monitoring and verification was being done.

It is nerve-racking that OPM that was established to coordinate government business and provide oversight over other ministries, departments and agencies is again at the center of this controversy, considering the fact that the Kazinda saga has not yet rested.

The country has not yet recovered from the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) scandal, where billions of shilling meant for post-war recovery for northern Uganda were swindled by officers at the OPM.

Whereas a few were convicted, most loom large. Although government later refunded the money using funds from the consolidated fund, it is not clear whether this money was ever recovered from the officials who stole it.

This was clear daytime robbery of Ugandan taxpayers, to pay for theft committed by a few individuals. Such a scenario should never happen again. This latest scandal also casts a shadow on the effectiveness of internal controls in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Have the internal auditors in the MDAs gone to sleep?

Is their function now ceremonial or become part of the daily happenings? If they cannot detect and stop fraud, of what use are they to Ugandans?

Do we need an international agency to come and tell us that something is going wrong?

Where was the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services?

Investigations currently mooted by the government and the United Nations will most likely yield nothing, if the recommendations are not implemented. Without a strong will to fight corruption, the ‘zero-tolerance to corruption approach’ will remain a slogan.

We suggest that an independent agency be contracted to conduct a special audit in the misuse of refugee funds. All officers implicated in this scandal should step aside, to allow investigations go on unhampered. The business of transferring officers who have been implicated in malfeasance must stop.

If stern action is not taken against the perpetrators, major donors, including those who pledged funds during the solidarity summit, may refuse to honor their pledges.

With the Ugandan economy already in dire straits, this could mean disaster for the refugee community. Uganda has been heralded as having a conducive and welcoming approach to refugees.

If action is not taken against the perpetrators of this malfeasance, this reputation will be lost.

The author works with the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda.


-1 #1 Akot 2018-02-14 20:00
Uganda under the most inhuman tribalistic system of rule is considered by UN-Europe, a peaceful prosperous country where refugees are at home!

Corruption goes unnoticed while more & more money is demanded for refugee cause!

How much do UN refugee camps in Uganda cost to build & how much do refugees get monthly for living?

A S.Sudan refugee in Uganda said on BBC Focus on Africa that he is happy to be in peaceful Uganda & has managed to get money to bring her mother over!

UN is the biggest abuser of donors while Europe is blindly following UN in defending refugee cause, forgetting as long as dictatorship-bad rule goes on, wars will go on to!

UN is bent on call for more money for refugees instead of making good governance 'obligation-condition' to being UN member, as good governance is condition for being EU member!...
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0 #2 Akot 2018-02-14 20:09
...Uganda under disgusting inhuman tribalistic system is considered bu UN-Europe 'peaceful-democracy' while tribalists at armed wars in their countries are victims: victims of who?

What have tribalists Ugandans done to be ignored, yet their country used as home for tribalists at armed wars in their countries?

What if Ugandans take to arms too, where will UN build refugee camps for Ugandans?

It's hight time big financers of UN ask: Why do we continue financing UN?

What use are UNHCR-UNICEF...when there has never been real projects for peace-education in developing countries, while dictatorship-bad rule causes tension-division-tribalism-sectarianism-extremism & wars go on on on...?

Why is UN still being financed?
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0 #3 Akot 2018-02-14 20:15
Why do UN-Europe just join museveni is destroying Uganda?

But Akot forgets that as long as Ugandans maintain the tribalistic system & stay tribally divided & without National opposition leadership, neither UN nor EU will say a word about their condition!

But UN-EU will continue giving money for tribalists refugees at armed wars looking for peace in Uganda & UN-EU make sure money is there to ensure refugees in Uganda are taken care of!

Do Ugandans realise the situation in which they have put themselves & thier children?
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+1 #4 ejakait engoraton 2018-02-14 23:49
I have always said that the suffering of UGANDANS and other people for that matter, even DEATH in some cases , is pleasure for some people.

Ordinarily, an influx of refugees, much as Ugandans are a hospitable people, is not a very good thing for Ugandans, and even the refugees.

BUT for some people, this is an EVIL opportunity to make money. THE big man goes around with bowl in hand, just like when there is an outbreak like EBOLA, even malaria, AIDS, TB ( anybody remember GAVI funds) and he uses the plight of of the poor people to beg for funds for him and his cronies to LOOT.

OUR rulers are happy when there is a refugee crisis, an epidemic or such disaster.IT is no surprise that this is now coming out in the public.

It is something most people have known for a long time. This is exactly what happens to AID money, the reason they want to control NGOs so that that money can also be looted
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0 #5 Akot 2018-02-15 19:23
ejakait engoraton, thanks.

UN only comes in to handle side effects of wars (refugees) & calls the world to donate to prolong human miseries, while protecting dictators-bad rulers left without people blocking them/bringing their evil rule down!

If money given to UN agancies for refugee-children education... was used correctly, all countries housing refugees would have real developed towns & not filthy tents that cost nothing while UN officials live like gods!

What us is UN today apart from making sure dictators-bad rulers go on while those who should bring them down are taken as refugees-confined in UN refugee camps or imposed on other countries?

How much would it cost UN to ensure every member country puts in place humane governance with respect of human rights that UN loudls, yet does not promote?
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