Executive Summary for February 7th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including allegations of corruption over refugee aid in Uganda, anti-smuggling raids in France and Britain, and rising deaths on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Published on Feb. 7, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

E.U. Investigates Corruption in Uganda Over Refugee Aid

Allegations of corruption in Uganda’s huge refugee aid program have prompted investigations by the government and donors.

The East African nation is sheltering more than 1 million South Sudanese refugees and 400,000 others from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. The South Sudan crisis has strained the country’s generous refugee-hosting policies and donor aid has consistently fallen short.

Now donors fear the aid effort has also been hampered by corruption. According to the Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor, the U.N. informed the government of three suspected abuses by local officials: inflating refugee numbers, siphoning funds and aid and trafficking female refugees.

The E.U. delegation in Uganda said it had identified fraud allegations through the U.N.’s World Food Program and refugee agency, both of which receive E.U. funds, and referred the claims to the E.U. anti-fraud office for investigation.

With Uganda a flagship for the U.N.’s new “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework,” it is “of utmost importance to address swiftly and thoroughly any allegations of malfeasance in order not to impair this important process and public support from the European taxpayers,” the delegation said.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said the government is investigating the allegations and the U.N. has demanded an audit of refugee numbers and a “value for money audit” on food aid.

France, Britain Conduct Anti-Smuggling Raids

France and Britain launched raids targeting smugglers bringing people across the English Channel.

French police detained 27 people at a makeshift camp for Vietnamese migrants in a forest in northern France. Authorities said other raids were conducted around the country.

In the U.K., British police arrested 21 people accused of smuggling mostly Iraqi Kurds across the English Channel. The raids spanned northeast and south England and were the culmination of a year-long investigation into the smuggling gang, police said.

Amid Brexit talks, the U.K. and France last month agreed to reinforce border security to prevent migration across the Channel.

Deaths Rise on U.S.-Mexico Border

The number of migrants who died crossing into the U.S. from Mexico increased in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to the U.N. migration agency.

At least 412 deaths were recorded in 2017, an increase from 398 a year earlier. One major factor was the flooding of the Rio Grande river on the border in early 2017. At least 91 people drowned crossing the border last year, an increase from 67 in 2016.

“The increase in deaths is especially concerning, as the available data indicate that far fewer migrants entered the U.S. via its border with Mexico in the last year,” the International Organization for Migration’s Frank Laczko said. The number of migrants caught crossing the border plunged by 44 percent in 2017 amid the Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

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