Over many years, the Government of Uganda and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have provided extraordinary life-saving support and assistance to hundreds of thousands of people who had sought refuge in Uganda.
During 2016 and 2017, the humanitarian response for refugees in Uganda suffered from mismanagement, corruption and abuse. This has affected the humanitarian work and the confidence in the systems delivering it. The problems were to some extent fuelled by a lack of necessary controls.
In order to address this, and to re-establish an efficient and trustworthy humanitarian response, the Government of Uganda, donors, and UN agencies identified in 2018 and jointly put in place new mechanisms and controls with a view to reduce the risks of fraud and malfeasance. The steps already undertaken are crucial to address the situation but the legacy and the effects of the wrongdoings are still felt, and responsibilities are still to be placed.
International donors look at the findings of the recent audit by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services of UNHCR Uganda’s operations from July 2016 through December 2017 with serious concern. These findings provide key elements and details to guide and focus the actions of the UNHCR and of the Ugandan Government to implement swiftly the recommendations made by the audit report and to complete all investigations on corruption and misconduct as well as on the alleged sexual exploitation and abuse on refugees. We expect action by the Government of Uganda to hold those responsible accountable.
The common objective of the Government of Uganda, donors, and UN agencies is to continue to cooperate to bring those suspected of wrongdoings to face their responsibility in court so to fully restore confidence in the international humanitarian response system in Uganda.
The importance of the task is immense, and the international community will continue to stand together with the UNHCR and the Government of Uganda to achieve these common objectives.