Sudan: Causes and effects of the temporary suspension of UNHCR resettlement program

An investigative report by IRIN news published on the 15th of May 2018, revealed the corruption scandal related to the resettlement program of refugees, in the UNHCR office in Khartoum, Sudan. According to the report refugees who pay money and other bribes are given priority in the resettlement program. The investigative report was based on interviews conducted with refugees living in Khartoum and on testimonies of others on the issue.

Refugees have repeatedly been complaining about those harmful practices and this report supports and confirms the refugees’ claims and reveals the level and nature of corruption scandals in the UNHCR office, Khartoum branch. After revealing the very embarrassing practices that refugees have been complaining of repeatedly, the Geneva-based headquarters UNHCR office in Switzerland issued a conclusive decision on the scandal through its official website, after three days of the release of the report. In this resolution, the resettlement program of refugees is suspended temporarily.

The UNHCR is expected to take the matter seriously and conduct a thorough investigation and make public the outcomes. Nevertheless, the UNHCR office Khartoum branch seems to follow a different approach. Africa Monitors has learned, as the names, addresses and case numbers of the informants were published in detail in the report, most of the refugees (informants) were contacted by the UNHCR office in Khartoum and subjected to difficult interrogations and serious threats.  They were told that their files for resettlement were frozen.

Three days after publishing of the report, and after the office of the UNHCR decision on the suspension of its resettlement program from Sudan, the UNHCR office in Khartoum called the refugees to its office and questioned them about the information the refugees had provided without the UNHCR’s office knowledge and how they knew the procedures and works of the UNHCR office. It also added that the information provided was not accurate and baseless, and the refugees were told that their questioning and interrogation by the UNHCR office will continue.

In addition to this, the Sudanese Refugee agency, Commission of Refugees (COR), a partner of UNHCR called the refugees related to the report and told them that it will stop all kinds of assistance and will deal very seriously with the report.

COR is the government body which is responsible for registering refugees documenting their names and, determining their refugee status as they arrive in the Sudanese territory. Then, it refers them to the office of the UNHCR. It is also known for its close and strong coordination with the Sudanese security apparatus, which implies that cases and information considered sensitive by the security apparatus could pose security threats to the refugees.

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