Monday, May 08, 2006

Liberia's sex-for-aid scandal resurfaces

From the BBC:

Young girls in Liberia are still being sexually exploited by aid workers and peacekeepers despite pledges to stamp out such abuse, Save the Children says.

Girls as young as eight are being forced to have sex in exchange for food by workers for local and international agencies, according to its report.

The agency says such abuse is becoming more common as people displaced by the civil war return to their villages.

The UN in Liberia said it would investigate specific allegations.

The United Nations promised to put safeguards in place after sexual abuse in the refugee camps of West Africa was first revealed four years ago.

But a study by Save the Children, which involved speaking to more than 300 people in camps for people displaced by the war, found that abuse was still widespread.

This is utterly shameful. One can only hope the U.N. will not just "investigate specific allegations" but do everything it can to put an end to the abuse generally.

Liberia needs aid. The last thing it needs is more abuse, particularly abuse of this kind. Basic standards of humane treatment of the weak and vulnerable shouldn't be too much to ask for. After all, those who receive aid should at least be able to trust those who are providing the aid. It's that simple.

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