|Author (Person)||Coss, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.8, No.9, 7.3.02, p6|
THE EU must do more to ensure that children are protected from sexual abuse by unscrupulous staff working for humanitarian aid agencies it funds, one of the European Parliament's leading experts on the developing world has warned.
Welsh Socialist MEP Glenys Kinnock made the comments following the publication of a report by UK charity Save the Children and the United Nations refugee office (UNHCR) that alleged young girls in refugee camps in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea suffered regular sexual assaults at the hands of aid workers.
'I think this report shows very clearly the need to ensure that future contracts signed between the EU and aid agencies contain very clear child protection clauses,' Kinnock said.
'The EU has a huge responsibility to ensure aid workers do not abuse the positions of trust they find themselves in. If you don't have a clear code of conduct you'll always have these sorts of problems.'
The report did not deal specifically with the issue of humanitarian aid groups that work with the European Commission-run EU emergency aid office ECHO.
But Save the Children spokesman Paul Hetherington, who previously worked as head of staff for former UK socialist MEP Peter Truscott, said that the number of organisations covered meant groups with ECHO contracts were almost certainly involved. 'I am sure we will be looking at ECHO partners here,' he said.
The UNHCR-Save the Children investigation covered more than 40 organisations, which included local and international humanitarian aid groups as well as United Nations peacekeeping forces. However, the document's authors did not name names, arguing that their findings were the results of a preliminary investigation that will be followed up by a final report, probably later this month.
So far only Save the Children, itself an ECHO partner, has said that staff it employed were implicated in allegations of sexual abuse. It said three people - one local staff member and two refugee volunteers - had been disciplined as a result of investigations.
ECHO's information officer Simon Horner declined to comment, telling European Voice his job 'doesn't include speaking to the press'.
Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin said the EU executive 'unreservedly condemned' the practice of demanding sexual services for aid.
'If there were any proof of any staff working for any of our partners using sexual blackmail then the funding for those agencies would have to be reconsidered,' Udwin added.
The EU must do more to ensure that children are protected from sexual abuse by unscrupulous staff working for humanitarian aid agencies it funds, according to one of the European Parliament's leading experts on the developing world, Glenys Kinnock.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|