Reporting fraud, misconduct or sexual abuse

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Remember: All UNHCR services and activities are always free of charge.
At no point will you be asked to pay for any of the services provided by UNHCR or any of its partners. Please be cautious of fraudulent behaviour and do not believe anyone who tells you that they can help you with registration, resettlement etc. if you pay.

What is misconduct?

The United Nations defines misconduct as “any failure by a staff member to comply with his or her obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Regulations and Staff Rules or other administrative issuances, or to observe the standards of conduct expected of an international civil servant.”

Possible misconduct can include:

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse of people of concern.
  • Fraud (e.g. falsifying a document).
  • Corruption (e.g. taking money from refugees or others).
  • Theft and embezzlement (e.g. stealing equipment or money).
  • Workplace harassment (e.g. treating staff members in an unfair manner).
  • Sexual harassment (e.g. unwelcome sexual behaviour).
  • Abuse of authority (e.g. showing favouritism or discrimination against staff).
  • Assault upon or threats to others.
  • Misuse of UNHCR assets.
  • Breach of confidentiality.
  • Acts or behaviour that would discredit UNHCR.
  • Non-compliance with local laws.
  • Conflict of interest.
  • Abuse of privileges and immunities.
  • Gross negligence.
  • Unauthorized outside activities or employment.

What is fraud?

Fraud is any act with the objective of intentionally misleading another in order to obtain a benefit.

All UNHCR services are free of charge. Do not trust anyone or any organization asking you to pay for the services of UNHCR or its partners. If money or any other form of favours, including of a sexual nature, is requested from you, you should report it to UNHCR and/or the nearest police station immediately.

Be aware that any UNHCR services offered to you in exchange for money are fraudulent. For genuine information about UNHCR’s work and services, please consult UNHCR’s Help websites.

What is sexual exploitation and abuse?

Humanitarian workers are not allowed to have sexual relationships with anyone under the age of 18, even if it is legal in their country. Saying they did not know the person’s true age is not a valid excuse.

  • Humanitarian workers are not allowed to pay for sex with money, employment, goods or services – including goods and services intended as aid to people in need. They must not use promises of these things to make other people accept any kind of behaviour that humiliates or exploits them. This includes paying or offering money for sex with a prostitute.
  • Humanitarian workers have influence over who receives goods and services. This places them in a position of power in relation to people who need assistance. For that reason, humanitarian organizations strongly encourage staff not to have sexual relationships with anyone affected by a humanitarian emergency. Such relationships make humanitarian action seem less honest and credible.

How do I report fraud, corruption and other misconduct?

Report fraudsters who are offering you resettlement, financial or other kinds of assistance, fake documents or fake claims in exchange for money or other favours. These offers may be made to you in person or via social media, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram. Remember, UNHCR services are always free of charge.

You can submit a complaint by contacting UNHCR either via a Help website in your country or, if unavailable, you can find contact details of your nearest UNHCR office here.

Important:

  • Please note that filing a complaint will not in any way impact your case with UNHCR.
  • Complaints may be anonymous.
  • In your complaint, please provide all facts and evidence known to you.
  • Your report and all communication with UNHCR will be kept strictly confidential.

How can I report sexual exploitation and abuse?

What is sexual exploitation? It is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes.

What is sexual abuse? It is any actual or threatened sexual activity carried out by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.

In line with the United Nations standards of conduct, the staff members of UNHCR and NGO partners must not:

  • Have sexual activity with anyone in exchange for money, employment, preferential treatment, goods or services,
  • Have sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18 years old,
  • Engage in any other form of sexually humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour.

If you have are aware of, or have concerns or suspicions about a possible case of sexual exploitation and abuse by a UNHCR, UN or NGO staff member, please report this directly to the Inspector General’s Office (IGO) at UNHCR Headquarters:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Confidential fax: +41 22 739 7380
  • Mail: UNHCR, 94 Rue de Montbrillant, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

In your report, you should include:

  • What happened?
    • Describe in detail what you know about the incident or incidents.
  • Who committed the alleged wrongdoing?
    • Do you know if anyone else was involved? Please provide full names, job titles and organization, if possible.
  • When and where did the incident or incidents occur?
    • Please include dates and times, if possible.

Your report will be treated with discretion and kept strictly confidential.


See also

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