Parliament probes government officials on Refugee scam

FILE-- In this file photo of Monday Jan.6 2014, Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda arrive and await transportation from a transit center in the town of Koboko, Uganda, to a nearby settlement in Arua District, in northern Uganda. More than one million refugees have fled South Sudan’s ongoing civil war, overwhelming aid agencies and creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The United Nations said Friday that South Sudan joins Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia as countries that have produced over one million refugees. (AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie/file)

Parliament is seeking answers from the Government in relation to a refugee scam involving senior government officials and some members from Humanitarian assistance organizations.

This follows reports indicating that that, officials at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have been swindling money meant for refugees operations in Uganda.

Complaints also indicate that the Office of the Prime Minister-OPM, in connivance with Aid workers have been inflating refugee figures in order to attract more aid which is then corruptly shared. The allegations were reportedly raised by South Sudan refugees to UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, during a recent visit to Uganda.

Today, Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa told parliament that the scandal had tarnished Uganda’s image as a model in the refugee response worldwide. He said the alleged officers must be investigated in order to clear Uganda’s name.

He said the government needs to make a statement about the scandal and what they are doing apart from saying they have suspended members involved.

Obongi county MP Kaps Hassan Fungaroo says Parliament should transfer the refugee department from the Office of the Prime Minister and take it to another department.  He says the investigation needs an external intervention and not a statement from the Prime Minister whose office is accused.

The speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said the Prime Minister should take responsibility for the mess.

Uganda hosts an estimated 1.3 million refugee’s majority being from South Sudan. The country has been under conflict since 2013 when the conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar.

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

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