90 Miles From Tyranny : UNHCR Corruption: Resettlement Spots for a Price

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UNHCR Corruption: Resettlement Spots for a Price


Since ‘vulnerability’ is no longer the key to selecting refugees for resettlement, does that mean bribery is?

A story about alleged corruption in refugee resettlement at the UN refugee agency was published recently by NBC News.1 The seven-month investigation into refugee processing centers in five countries — Kenya, Uganda, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Libya — found widespread reports of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staffers accepting bribes from refugees in order to refer them for resettlement in a Western country.

Years ago, as I began researching the UN's role in the U.S. refugee resettlement program, I forewarned of the likely "subjectivity" of UNHCR's national staff (citizens of the countries where they are working, usually in regions of turmoil and economic unrest) responsible for refugee status determinations and resettlement referrals.2 Their appraisals can be at best complaisant and at worst open to the highest bidder.

In the wake of the NBC report, I looked at the five countries mentioned and found the following:
  • In FY 2019, the United States resettled 2,756 refugees from the processing centers in Kenya, Uganda, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Libya.
  • A total of 1,914 UNHCR staff members work at the refugee processing centers, of whom 79 percent (1,506) are national staff and 21 percent (408) international staff.
  • The average Transparency International average corruption score in 2018 for the five countries was 23.6/100 (the lower the number the more corrupt). The average ranking of these five among the 180 ranked countries was 150.6 out of 180 (180 being the most corrupt country in the world — Somalia). For comparison, the United States had a score of 71/100 and ranked 22nd out of 180 countries.
  • The United States is the top funder of UNHCR activities in four of the five countries.
UNHCR, Resettlement, and Fraud

UNHCR has the international mandate to determine who is (and who is not) attributed refugee status, to provide refugee assistance, and to decide who is eligible for resettlement in third countries. Resettlement is the "transfer of refugees from the country in which they have sought asylum to another state that has agreed to admit them as refugees and to grant them permanent settlement and the opportunity for eventual citizenship."3 A number of countries (29 nations in 2018) participate in UNHCR's resettlement program; the world's top resettlement country remains the United States.4

UNHCR's resettlement program is not impermeable to fraud. By UNHCR's own admission, "Refugee status and resettlement places are valuable commodities, particularly in countries with acute poverty, where the temptation to make money by whatever means is strong. This makes the resettlement process a target for abuse."5

UNHCR distinguishes between "external resettlement fraud" and "internal resettlement fraud".6 "External resettlement fraud" applies to "fraud perpetrated by persons other than those having a contractual relationship with UNHCR", such as the refugees themselves. One example of external resettlement fraud is identity fraud: "Identity fraud occurs when an identity is either invented, or the identity of another real person is assumed by an impostor. Supporting documents may be missing, or fraudulent documents provided." Other types include "family composition fraud", "one of the areas where misrepresentation or fraud is most likely to be committed"; and "document fraud" or "material misrepresentation fraud", whereby "refugees deliberately exaggerate, invent, or otherwise misrepresent the nature or details of their refugee claim or resettlement needs."

"Internal resettlement fraud" (the subject of the NBC story) refers to fraud perpetrated by UNHCR staff themselves. Examples include drafting false refugee claims or false needs assessments for resettlement; facilitating preferential processing or access to the procedure; charging a fee or asking for a favor to be added to an interview list; coaching refugees prior to or during the interview; and providing false medical attestations. Resettlement procedures are free of charge, but the fraudulent actions described above are often undertaken for a fee, a favor, or a gift and...

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1 comment:

  1. Everything the UN does is designed to create more victim/dependents and to milk as much money from the US and white Western nations as possible. It's all a fraud and we allow it because we're afraid of beng called "racists" or "bigots" or "Islamophobes". Fukem.

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