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Monitoring needed

Letters
AM



The recent Oxfam sex scandal shouldn’t surprise us. Sexual exploitation of minors appears to be a rule rather than an exception in conflict areas or poor countries. I have witnessed that in my early journalistic assignments in Africa in the late 80s.
Women who responded to the demands of the aid workers were given more attention, more rations than the rest of the village residents. They were provided transport with four wheel drive cars to and from their huts while the residents battle out the muddy roads several kilometres to the distribution centres and return with kilos of aid carried on their backs – a tiresome job. In remote places, most staff was composed of females irrespective of their educational backgrounds.
Not only the non-government organisations (NGOs) but also other big international establishments, including the United Nations peacekeeping forces in many parts of the world have allegedly been involved in sexual offences including raping and exploitation of the very victims they were expected to protect. The practice still continues with no one held accountable for the crime.
The United Nations Population Fund recently reported the existence of intensive and extensive sexual misconduct among aid workers in Syria.
It said that ‘women in refugee camps found themselves having to offer sexual favours in return for aid from the United Nations. (The Daily Telegraph, February 28, 2018).
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) revealed similar findings after a research on the same subject in Syria. Despite all the findings, however, the UN and other organisations have failed to stop the abuses.
The Oxfam sex scandal was condemned, just similar to abuses made by other organisations around the world.
However, the alleged abuse shouldn’t be a pretext to stop contributing to the organisation.
Aid organisations have helped the poor, fed the hungry, treated the sick, rescued the displaced and sheltered the homeless. These humanitarian work must continue.
Irrespective of their shortcomings, aid organisations remain the lifelines of millions of people around the globe.
The fact that some irresponsible staff has committed sexual crimes doesn’t discount the great efforts these organisations are doing.
Punishing individuals though necessary doesn’t seem to be the solution either. Aid organisations should monitor their operations. Those found guilty should be named and shamed, so others will learn a lesson. They need to focus on monitoring their operations and showing transparency. 

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