The UN Refugee Agency has appointed a new representative for Uganda to replace Mr Bornwell Kantande, according to a statement released by UNHCR.
The new representative for Uganda is Mr Joël Boutroue, a French national with more than 30 years of experience in the United Nations system and more generally in the humanitarian and development world. He has held a range of senior postings before his new position.
Kantande’s assignment as the UNHCR Representative in Uganda ended last month and he has since taken up the position of Head of the UNHCR Regional Service Centre in Nairobi.
The new UNCHR Representative, Boutroue has formerly worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), and has been UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. He also worked as Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in addition to serving in senior advisory roles to UN Member States.
“At such a critical time, with continuing influxes of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from South Sudan, Mr. Boutroue will lead UNHCR’s support to the Government of Uganda and ensure timely and efficient assistance to refugees,” the Agency said in the statement issued on Thursday.
Mr Boutroue comes at a time when the independent body of the UNHCR is internally investigating allegations of fraud, misconduct and exploitation in the management of refugees in Uganda and possible involvement of UNHCR officials.
This was confirmed in February by Teresa Ongaro, the UNHCR Senior Regional Spokesperson shortly after reports emerged claiming that some officials at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) had been involved in fraud and mismanagement of resources meant for refugees in Uganda.
At the time, Ongaro said the UNHCR Independent Inspector General’s office was pursuing internal investigations on some serious allegations received at the end of 2017.
The new Representative also inherits a system that is currently battling allegations that one of its staffers, Khamis Ali, 65, sexually abused young refugee girls.
Ali who was attached to Lamwo refugee camp was recently arrested after Kitgum Municipality MP, Beatrice Anywar raised the claims in Parliament.
This coincided with other shocking discoveries by one of the media in Uganda that Police, UNHCR staffers and OPM officials have been conniving with brockers to sexually exploit refugee girls and women in exchange for relocating them to other (safer) countries and granting them refugee status.
Uganda currently hosts over 1.4 million refugees from South Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo, Somalia and Rwanda.