Who will save the children?

LONDON (Reuters) - Sexual abuse of children by aid workers and peacekeepers is rife and efforts to protect young people are inadequate, said a report published on Tuesday.


The study by charity Save the Children UK said there were significant levels of abuse in emergencies, much of it unreported and unless the silence ended, attempts to stamp out exploitation would "remain fundamentally flawed."

Accusations of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and aid workers around the world have increased in recent years and the United Nations is investigating claims against its soldiers in hotspots such as Haiti, Liberia, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report said while the U.N. and some non-governmental organizations were stepping up efforts to address the problem, a global watchdog should be established this year to monitor attempts to tackle abuse and champion effective responses.

Save the Children based its findings on visits last year to Haiti, Southern Sudan and Ivory Coast. It held 38 focus group discussions with 250 children and 90 adults, followed up by in-depth interviews with some and desk-based research.

The study found a huge range of exploitation and abuse: children trading sex for food, forced sex, verbal sexual abuse, child prostitution, child pornography, sexual slavery, sexual assault and child trafficking.

The focus groups identified children as young as six as having been abused, although most were aged 14 to 15.

U.N. peacekeepers were identified as the most likely perpetrators by 20 of the 38 groups, although a total of 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organizations were associated with sexual abuse in the three countries.

"All humanitarian and peacekeeping agencies working in emergency situations, including Save the Children UK, must own up to the fact that they are vulnerable to this problem and tackle it head on," said Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK.


More than half of the participants in the study identified incidents of sexual touching and forced sex. Of these, 18 and 23 percent respectively recalled 10 or more such incidents.

"They especially ask us for girls of our age. Often it will be between eight and 10 men who will share two or three girls. When I suggest an older girl, they say that they want a young girl," a 14-year-old boy who works at a peacekeeping camp in Ivory Coast told the Save the Children research team.

And the report said official U.N. statistics appeared to underestimate the scale of abuse, probably because so much of the exploitation was not reported by victims.

"Clearly there is a significant disparity between the low levels of abuse cited in these statistics and the high levels suggested in field investigations and other evidence," it said.

Save the Children said there were many reasons why abuse was not reported: fear of losing material assistance, threat of retribution, stigmatization, negative economic impact, lack of legal services, resignation to abuse, lack of information about how to report abuse and, crucially, lack of faith in a response.

Anecdotal evidence from all 38 focus groups suggested there was an endemic failure to respond to reports of abuse.

"Many U.N. agencies and NGOs working here feel they cannot be touched by anyone," said an aid worker in Ivory Coast.

(Edited by Richard Meares)

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This world makes me cry..............

    What can we do?

    I saw a programme on this & a NZ Doctor "blew the whistle" on sexual abuse done by UN aid workers.

    He was sacked, but has now been re-instated, by the UN.

    Animals don't hurt their young as much as humans. It disgusts me.

    I'm going to write to the United Nations......

    Shall we all write to them & ask them to stop this!

  • 4 years ago

    hard question... i assume that ought to incredibly matter on fairly some variables. little ones artwork interior the U. S. each and all the time (think of latest child actors). yet there are countless statutes and regulations in place to verify that the little ones at the instant are not in uncomplicated terms bodily able and function the permission of their mom and dad, yet that they are additionally psychologically/emotionally able and that they are working in secure circumstances and their training is maintained. So i assume there could be many stuff to think approximately. I do see one flaw interior the argument - why can not an grownup from the relatives be employed to keep them from severe poverty, loss of training, and early marriage? Slave hard artwork is slave hard artwork no remember if that's a new child or grownup performing the activity, yet inherent hiring little ones for hard artwork, regardless the argument, it might look somebody is attempting to keep a greenback and it all of it merely circles around the tip justifying the mean. So, might I? No.

  • 1 decade ago

    This is appalling; I'm shocked and surprised that aid workers aren't more thoroughly vetted before going into the field.

  • Karl
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    its sad to see how bad and currupt some people are

    what makes them so evil i wonder . i am glad this is being exposed and i hope the people responsible pay dearly for their badness

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    nobody saves the children.

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