Complaints, feedback and reporting fraud or sexual abuse

UNHCR has zero-tolerance approach to fraud, misconduct, corruption and exploitation or abuse of all kinds.

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.

Fraud, Corruption or Misconduct

What is fraud? Any act or omission, including misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact, that knowingly or intentionally misleads, or attempts to mislead, a party to obtain a benefit, whether directly or indirectly, whether for oneself or for a third party.

What is misconduct? All UNHCR staff members are bound by the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations. Misconduct is defined as the failure by a staff member to abide by these rules and regulations. Misconduct can be classified into various types;

  • Embezzlement and procurement fraud
  • Financial negligence resulting in substantial losses
  • Sexual exploitation and abuse
  • Harassment (including mobbing)
  • Assault, threats or retaliation
  • Unlawful acts (e.g. theft or fraud) on or off UN premises
  • Misrepresentation or false certification relating to a claim or benefit
  • Misuse of the Organization’s equipment or assets
  • Abuse of authority
  • Non-compliance with local laws or the staff’s personal legal obligations.

What is corruption? It is offering, giving, receiving or soliciting (directly or indirectly) anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party.

  1. ALL SERVICES ARE FREE: All services provided by UNHCR and its partners are provided free of charge.  No refugee or asylum seeker should be asked to pay for any services that UNHCR provides. Beware that any person who claims that he/she is able to provide you with special treatment may be trying to exploit you.  Any person who demands any financial or other benefit from a refugee or asylum seeker to access UNHCR facilities should be reported immediately (see 9. below). These persons will be subject to disciplinary action which, in the case of UNHCR or partner staff, includes termination of employment and referral to the Government of Kenya for possible criminal investigation.  
  • DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BRIBE AN OFFICIAL: Do not attempt to bribe any person for any services provided by UNHCR or its partners.  If you do so, you may face consequences that include denial of services and, possibly, criminal investigation. 
  • ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH: Remain truthful when talking to UNHCR and partners. Any mispresented information may lead to negative consequences for you including a denial of services or protection and possibly criminal investigation. If you have previously made false statements you should alert a staff member as soon as possible and explain the circumstances fully.
  • FRAUD, CORRUPTION AND EXPLOITATION AFFECTS EVERYONE:  Fraud, corruption and exploitation whether committed by UNHCR/partner officials or asylum seekers/refugees can have a significant impact on availability of services provided by UNHCR and partners and result in significant delays in finding appropriate solutions including in third countries.
  • REPORT FRAUD OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS: You should report any fraud or corruption by refugees and asylum seekers that you observe through the complaints mechanisms mentioned below. All reports will be processed in a confidential manner.
  • Email[email protected]
  • Helpline: 1517 (toll-free)
  • Letter: complaints/suggestions box are available at the gate of all UNHCR facilities.

Your complaint will be handled in accordance with defined procedures according to the nature of your complaint. All complaints are treated confidentially for your own protection.  In making your complaint, provide all information that you believe is relevant. Anonymous complaints will be considered but it may be difficult to efficiently address your concern if we cannot contact you.

  • REPORT FRAUD, CORRUPTION AND EXPLOITATION BY OFFICIALS: You should report any fraud, corruption or exploitation by UNHCR and partners that you observe. We have robust procedures to prevent fraud and corruption and to investigate and take action against fraudulent and corrupt persons.  If you wish to report improper conduct (including corruption, fraud, bribery, exploitation, extortion etc) by UNHCR or other official, contact:
  • Email[email protected]
  • Website: www.unhcr.org/php/complaints.php
  • Fax:  +41 22 739 7380
  • Helpline: 1517 (toll-free) and inform the operator that you want to report a fraudulent activity.  Your call will be referred to a specialist staff member and treated in full confidence.

Do not put yourself in danger by trying to do your own investigations. Reporting fraud and corruption is an obligation for all refugees and asylum seekers and will not result in you receiving any direct reward or special treatment.

  • HELP US IMPROVE OUR SERVICES:  We request that you engage with UNHCR and partners including your community leaders to help us improve our services (you can find out the identity and contact details of your community leader by calling the Helpline). 

See also

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