Khartoum — The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), is temporarily suspending its refugee resettlement programme from Sudan in connection with two ongoing investigations launched in February and March by the organisation's independent Inspector General's Office.
A separate anti-fraud and integrity support mission is expected to deploy shortly, according to a statement by the UNHCR from Khartoum today.
"At present we are still dealing with allegations, based on reports that have come from refugees. Nonetheless these are worrying and the integrity of the Sudan resettlement programme has to be assured beyond any doubt," said UNHCR Representative for Sudan Noriko Yoshida. "Should wrongdoing be confirmed, those responsible can expect the consequences to be severe."
Resettlement is one of the three main solutions for refugees and applies to vulnerable people for whom there is no possibility of either voluntary return or local integration. As such, it is a vital lifeline.
In the statement, the UNHCR encourages anyone with information about suspected fraud or other wrongdoing to contact its Inspector General's Office without delay on http://www.unhcr.org/inspector-generals-office.html
It concludes by underlining that the UNHCR never charges fees to help refugees or others under its duty of care.
The statement explains that investigations at UNHCR are done by the organisation's Inspector General's Office (IGO) - an independent investigative body which reports directly to the High Commissioner. The IGO conducts ad hoc inspections of field offices and Headquarters units; undertakes investigations of possible misconduct by UNHCR personnel or any entity with contractual links to the organisation; and conducts inquiries into violent attacks on UNHCR personnel and operations. The team is made of experienced and professional investigators, some of whom are former police officers.
It continues to underline that "all UNHCR staff, and staff of our partners, are expected to sign a Code of Conduct which specifies an obligation not to abuse positions in relation to beneficiaries and to make sure that all their actions are free of any consideration of personal gain. Staff must agree never to request any service or favour from refugees. Failure to comply with the Code may amount to misconduct. With other sanctions, staff may be referred to national authorities for prosecution," the statement concludes.