Refugee Scam: Parliament to Undertake Own Investigation

1591 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Parliament has adopted a motion to undertake an independent investigation into the refugee scam involving senior government officials and some members from humanitarian assistance organisations.

Parliament has adopted a motion to undertake an independent investigation into the refugee scam involving senior government officials and some members from humanitarian assistance organisations.

This follows complaints indicating that officials at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have been swindling money meant for refugees operations in Uganda. The OPM officials are said to have worked with aid workers to inflate numbers of refugees in order to attract more funds which can be shared. 

The allegations were reportedly raised by South Sudan refugees to UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, during a recent visit to Uganda.

Following these allegations officials from the OPM, including the Commissioner for Refugees David Kazungu, were suspended to pave way for investigations by the Government. The office of the Inspector General of Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are also undertaking investigations.

Now Parliament has moved to have its own investigations into the matter.

Obongi County MP, Kaps Hassan Fungaroo, the mover of the motion prayed that a select committee of Parliament be established so that suspected fraud is investigated. In his argument, Fungaroo says there is no document in relation to development of refugee host areas. He says there were variations in handling refugees and host communities and issues of local employment among others.

He says the network of corruption from the top to the bottom should be investigated, and that too much secrecy in the refugee assistance activities is leading to more fraud.

//Cue in: "There are no…
Cue his work."//

He also called for investigations into fraud related to recruitment of staff in organisations dealing with refugees and Government bodies.
Yorke Odria Alioni, the Aringa South MP, seconded the call for a select committee saying Parliament cannot watch the Government investigate itself. He says Government and humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisations were spending huge sums of money without proper accountability.
Although Jovah Kamateeka, the Mitooma Woman MP, had called for the IGG to be left to investigate the case, the proposal was rejected as Parliament demanded for its full oversight. She suggested that Parliament only directs the IGG on how to proceed but she was overruled by the house who said the IGG can't be directed.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, said the matter of refugees affects all Ugandans. He said various agencies were taking investigations into the matter, and Parliament could also join in the investigations.
//Cue in: "Do we want…
Cue out:..awaited refugee policy."//
Uganda hosts an estimated 1.3 million refugees majority being from South Sudan, which has been under conflict since 2013.  

Uganda is also hosting refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea among others. 


About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.