| UN halts Sudan refugee resettlement after alleged fraud

The UN refugee agency said on Thursday it is temporarily suspending its programme for the resettlement of refugees from Sudan after allegations of fraud emerged in the scheme.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, said it had launched two investigations in February and March as the allegations of fraud surfaced.

“At present we are still dealing with allegations, based on reports that have come from refugees,” the head of the UNHCR in Sudan, Noriko Yoshida said in a statement.

“Should wrongdoing be confirmed, those responsible can expect the consequences to be severe.”

The UNHCR has appealed for more than $250m in global aid to fund its overall 2018 operations in Sudan, which hosts about 1.2 million refugees, most from South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

“UNHCR in Sudan resettled 600 refugees as part of the programme in 2017,” a spokesperson for the UN agency in Geneva, Babar Baloch, told AFP.

“Only the most vulnerable are eligible under this programme.”

Resettlement is a solution for refugees and applies to those vulnerable people for whom it is difficult to voluntary return to their homeland or there is no possibility to integrate in the country where they have sought refuge.

Investigations of fraud are to be carried out by the UNHCR Inspector General‘s Office.

The UNHCR said a separate anti-fraud and integrity support mission was expected to arrive shortly in Sudan to probe the allegations.

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