Accusations of sexual abuse by aid workers shocking - MSF condemns all such actions
28 February 2002
MSF is shocked by the alleged extent of sexual abuse indicated in theÃ? report by SCF and the UNHCR investigatingÃ? alleged sexual exploitation of vulnerable refugees in West Africa. MSF condemns all forms of exploitation against vulnerable populations. MSF is one of forty NGOs and UN agencies mentioned in the report. We have not received sufficient, detailed information that would enable us to take measures towards employees who might have been involved in such practices and protect those who may have been victims of sexual abuse. MSF is currently contacting the authors of the report in order to seek further information to this end. The alleged involvement of employees of humanitarian aid organisations is a cynical demonstration of how aid can be used against the very people it is intended to serve. In addition, the issue of sexual exploitation raises more general problems about violence against civilians in many war contexts. The lack of protection of populations caught in conflict situations exposes them to many kinds of extreme violence. MSF has been working on these issues for a number of years and is disturbed to find that abuses may be so prevalent in what should be relatively safe locations.Ã? Ã? It is hoped that this report stimulates opportunities to question the professional practices within aid organizations regarding this urgent issue. Beyond the immediate measures that must be taken in response to the allegations made in the report, aid organizations must examine urgently the quality of relief offered to this category of victims. We are aware that it is difficult to eradicate this abusive behavior completely, but we will be making every effort to follow up the risks identified in the report. However,Ã? we must not ignore the significant commitment of aid workers international and national - to serve people in crisis situations.