The United Nations has reopened an investigation to allegations of corruption among workers in a Ugandan refugee camp after an NBC News investigation, but sufferers say that they face retaliation for testifying along with the UN isn’t protecting them.
The coverage came as a portion of a wider investigation this spring, which demonstrated that dozens of refugees from East Africa accused UNHCR employees and builders of exploiting refugees and whitewashing corruption fees.
Refugees interviewed stated they believed they had nowhere to turn when they observed corruption since they needed to rely on the UNHCR, whose mandate is to safeguard them for meals, medicine, and security.
She described the measure as a matter of policy instead of judgment, stating an earlier identification of corruption at refugee resettlement had deemed comparable allegations to be”unsubstantiated.”
While some 25 witnesses are interviewed up to now, Pouilly stated, “the data offered to this IGO appears, however, to be predicated on hearsay instead of concrete proof. The investigative work is continuing and proceeds to leave no stone unturned.”
The UNHCR attracted the witnesses into Entebbe, some 200 kilometers from Nakivale, in which a UN investigator interviewed them.
Once there, many said they believed they were intimidated, while some said the interviews had been conducted but they’ve had no help handling security threats since then.
1 Congolese refugee stated the investigator requested mainly about the way the origin was gotten in touch with a reporter and regarding the queries posed. He wasn’t asked to detail cases of corruption that he had seen, the witness stated. He reported leaving the meeting together with the sense that researchers were searching for ways to prove him wrong, or decrease the corruption he’d reported.
“Now we’ve got the impression we’re forfeited. We do not understand who must protect us.
At a November email, Pouilly stated, “While we know that being interviewed by an investigator could be stressful for a few refugees, we may safely state that the tone of those interviews wasn’t intimidating, which had been the way supported by a number of those refugees you also spoke to. All interviews were directed by professional and highly experienced researchers, and listed, after strict guidelines we have set up.”
Nine refugees said they faced retaliation following their interviews, which pleas for security have gone undercover. Also they all said that they were warned to not talk to colleagues.
Refugees described retaliation they’ve endured, such as being assaulted, harassed and ostracized by other refugees.
Two witnesses stated individuals connected with UNHCR warned that they might have their refugee status canceled, while a refugee said that he had been threatened with deportation with a team member working for the Ugandan authorities. Another said he had been phoned in by Ugandan government personnel from the settlement and forced to replicate his testimony before the UNHCR staff member he’d accused of asking for bribes. Several said their relatives also have been jeopardized, and sleep independently from them due to the probability of strikes.
“I am living in hiding, I do not pass nights in your home. My loved ones left me due to the dangers.
“The folks we denounced are still the very same individuals working today,” said another, referring to the UNHCR employees in Nakivale.
Many refugees explained a cycle of testifying and following retaliation because they decided to report corruption at Nakivale into UNHCR in 2016, two decades until they spoke to a reporter.
“If we did not report until today we would be OK. Others that kept silent are fine. We’ll keep reporting until there’s a solution.”
“We are in a situation today where we can not shut up and say there’s nothing. If we are denouncing it, then that may make things better for many refugees,” said the other refugee witness.
A third said he’s been requested for more bribes because the UN investigation was relaunched, and manipulation and misuse of power with aid workers in the settlement are continuing.
Refugees accuse UNHCR of inviting them to come forward with no appropriate systems to fight corruption or respect for the consequences.
1 witness revealed this reporter that a WhatsApp message from among the IGO researchers, in which the investigator said neighborhood UNHCR protection staff and the authorities are those responsible for the refugee’s security, despite the two being implicated by his testimony.
“When we found that message we believed we had been perishing,” said the witness. “Because if there’s somebody of his place telling you something like this, you realize you’re nothing and there’s nowhere you can run”
Refugees forecast that Washington’s current statement of massive cutbacks at the numbers of refugees of this U.S. will take for resettlement will even dissuade witnesses of corruption out of coming forward, realizing they’re even prone to be transferred to a secure site. Back in September, the Trump administration established a cap of 18,000 refugees who could be resettled into the U.S. in 2020, the smallest amount in four years.
Witnesses said researchers from UNHCR’s IGO had ceased responding to their messages. “If I am still alive now it is simply because God is with me,” said one guy.
“We’re firmly dedicated to explore any potential misconduct one of our team despite all issues we’re facing in our project to assemble the concrete evidence “
Refugee witnesses stated this email was incorrect. “They told they are aware but from this time nothing was done. They state’ steps,’ but we haven’t seen anything in the area. They did not call me, they did not send any message. We’re staying lonely, isolated”
There are over 1.3 million refugees from Uganda, according to UNHCR statistics, the vast majority of whom have fled states with wars or even dictatorships such as South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, along with many others in the area. In May, UNHCR and the Ugandan authorities appealed for contributions of $927 million to finance their refugee surgeries.