KAMPALA, Feb. 14 — Officials from the government of Uganda and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday started fresh re-validation of all refugees in the country.
The move is part of investigations into allegations of possible misappropriation of funds for refugee activities. Uganda’s Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hilary Onek told Xinhua in a recent interview that the new validation exercise will help the government and the UN update the existing biodata of refugees in the country. Under the new arrangement, Uganda also plans to introduce a 10-finger fingerprint database for refugees as one way of weeding out “ghost refugees.” “The current data has been distorted by fraudsters, we are going to carry out re-validation to rectify that,” Onek said. He added that all registered refugees will be re-validated and new ones registered. “We shall take fingerprints from all the 10 fingers of each refugee so that the current confusion doesn’t occur again,” he said.
Onek faulted World Food Program and UNHCR officials for ignoring government refugee biodata in favor of figures provided by refugee camp commandants during food distribution chain to various refugees in the country. “Some UNHCR and WFP officers have been negligent and they are partly responsible for the current confusion,” he said.
“We hope the proposed re-validation exercise will help us correct these mistakes and put an end to cheating and smuggling of people who are not refugees as beneficiaries.” With refugees from 13 countries and their number growing daily, Uganda is reportedly hosting more than 1.2 million of them. They are spread in nine refugee settlement camps in the country. The re-validation program followed allegations of inflation of refugee numbers, misappropriation of funds, human trafficking and abuse of refugees in Uganda, which prompted the UN to send auditors to the country to investigate. – XINHUA