Aid workers traded wheat and life-saving medicines for sex with children

Date: 
February, 2018

Aid workers traded wheat and life-saving medicines for sex with children in crisis zones, it has emerged.

Humanitarians traded 'oil, bulgur wheat, tarpaulin or plastic sheeting, medicines, transport, ration cards, loans, education courses and skills training' with girls aged 13 to 18.

The report, written in 2001,  shows officials knew of the alleged abuse in Africa a decade before the Oxfam sex scandal, where chiefs were accused of concealing findings of an inquiry into claims staff paid for prostitutes in disaster-struck Haiti in 2011.

Underage girls were also asked to pose naked for pictures and rooms were rented for sex, the report by Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) reveals.

It added in some cases that parents encouraged their daughters to be sexually exploited by aid workers, government officials, UN peacekeepers, refugee leaders and teachers to bring income into the family.

It comes as a British-funded charity supported by Meghan Markle admitted its workers traded food and cash for sex with survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake on Haiti.

World Vision, which Prince Harry’s fiancée was an ambassador for until last year, admitted that paid employees forced desperate survivors of the disaster to have sex or money for World Food Programme aid.

The UNHCR and Save the Children probe shows abuse was rife in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

While security forces pooled cash to have sex with children, aid workers withheld provisions for children unless sex was given. 

One refugee in Guinea told investigators aid workers would ask for sex in exchange for a kilo of lifesaving soya nutrients.

A teenage girl in Liberia said: 'It's difficult to escape the trap of those people. They use food as bait to get you to have sex with them.'

More than 40 aid agencies working in West Africa were named in the report along with 67 individuals.

It says the majority of children consulted said they knew of at least one other child involved in an exchange that involved trading sex for life-saving commodities.

In some cases, children as young as four were sexually harassed.

It states: 'Girls between the ages of four and 12 were also reported as being sexually harassed, either verbally or through touching of buttocks, breasts, or genitals. Children said boys of their age group also did the same, but that adult males were mostly responsible.

'Children reportedly experience attempted rape mostly when they go to use the toilets or take a bath. The toilets and bathrooms are all located in the same place, and divided along gender lines. Children say adult males lay watch for when the child is going to the toilet. They then follow the child and try to rape them.'  

The report also explains that the children are aware of the exploitation, but often feel they have no other options.

'The children themselves, whilst aware of the exploitative nature of the exchange, felt this was often the only option they had in order to receive food and other basic necessities and to pay for education. 

'Parents were often aware of the exploitation but also felt that there were no other options for their family to secure a livelihood and whilst not approving it, generally turned a blind eye. 

In some cases, however, it was reported that parents encouraged their daughters to engage in such activities to bring an income into the family' it says.

Source: Daily Mail