KAMPALA – The minister of relief, disaster preparedness and Refugees, Eng Hillary Onek, has assured development partners that the era of misappropriation of funds meant for refugees is long gone.
Speaking during a high-level consultative meeting on the refugee response in Kampala on Tuesday, Mr Onek asked the donors to forget the past, stop referring to what happened and move forward.
“Refugees have been documented electronically, services are being monitored very strictly, and we don’t expect any more misappropriation of any kind,” he said.
The minister was reacting to concerns by donors that the government is not doing to enough to punish its officials who embezzled funds meant for refugees last year. Last year, the Office of the Prime Minister was last year hit by a scandal involving abuse of funds for refugees.
The ambassador of Japan to Uganda, Mr Kazuaki Kameda, had earlier said while his government remains committed to ensuring improved lives for refugees and host communities, he also re-echoed the need to address issues of accountability and transparency in refugee funds.
“The government of Japan like other development partners believes that contributions for refugee assistance in Uganda should not be misused in anyway, effective measures should be put in place and punitive action shall be taken against those who have been implicated in substantiated cases,” Mr Kameda said.
The German ambassador to Uganda, Albrecht Conze, also called on the government to go beyond the assurances to act upon the implicated officials.
“It’s extremely important that before the global refugee forum in less than 2 months in Geneva, we see tangible progress in regard to bringing to justice those that have been suspected of being at the root of these irregularities one and a half years ago,” Conze said.
Monday’s meeting was held is in preparation for the first global refugee Forum to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2019.