UN officials to investigate fraud reports at refugee agency
By Adow Jubat
Two UN officials are investigating fraud reports in their resettlement and registration operations.
The officials from the UN Inspector General Office in Geneva visited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Westlands, Nairobi, to investigate alleged registration of Kenyan Somalis posing as refugees. The registration targets refugees from Ogaden region in Southern Ethiopia.
The scam was exposed in The Standard’s Crime, Courts and Investigations (CCI) segment last week.
Investigations revealed that some UNHCR officials were working with some refugees from Kakuma camp in selling refugee status to Somali Kenyans from North Eastern Province.
The officials were to meet with UNHCR officials responsible for refugees’ registration.
Mr Sean Herderson and Mr Philippa Candler told The Standard their arrival was testimony to the concern by the Geneva office over the matter.
Exposure by The Sunday Standard of the malpractice came two months after another involving sale of refugee-designated food by aid workers at Dadaab camp in northern Kenya. It led to the suspension of at least 10 people working with World Food Programme and Care Kenya.
“The UN Inspector General and the Geneva office were saddened by the fraud reports. Appropriate action will be taken against those disregarding the organisation’s code of conduct,” Herderson said.
The two are expected to visit Kakuma refugee camp, where the victims are allegedly promised resettlement to the US and Europe after registering as refugees. Victims pay between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 for registration.
The UNHCR office in Nairobi issued a press statement on Wednesday saying they were responding to the reports and taking appropriate action to ensure its operations in Kenya remained free of fraudulent activities.
The statement read in part, “…additional measures aimed at further reinforcing external and internal awareness of the complex procedures involving the registration of individual refugee cases have been put in place by UNHCR Kenya”.