Five UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officers in Kenya were dismissed in recent years because they were involved in corruption, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday in Geneva.
The UNHCR reacted to a report by the German magazine Stern, which alleged that staff members in Africa had charged refugees around 2,500 dollars for issuing documents to secure them a coveted spot in permanent resettlement programmes in wealthier countries.
The money was paid to receive forged application documents from UNCHR staffers, such as medical certificates.
Besides the five cases in Kenya in 2016 and 2017, which have been referred to national prosecution authorities, there is a similar possible resettlement corruption case in Uganda, UNCHR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told dpa.
“Complaint and feedback mechanisms have been strengthened across the board in both Kenya and Uganda” to make sure that refugees know that UNHCR services are free, and to inform them where they can report misconduct, Pouilly said.
The UN Refugee Agency has also stepped up its disciplinary measures around the world, resulting in a 60-per-cent rise of disciplinary actions against staff members in 2017 and 2018.
The UNHCR estimated that 1.4 million refugees last year were in need of resettlement.
However, countries only offered to take in 55,000 people under this programme, which is designed to ease the burden on poor host countries that shoulder most of the world’s refugee influx.