The UN Aid Was Being Exchanged For Sexual Services In Syria; Report
Women in refugee camps in Syria have been forced into having sex in return for food by men delivering aid for the United Nations and charities, a report says.

According to a new report, the men working on behalf of the UN and international charities for distributing food and other international aid in Syria, ask for sexual favours in return for food.

Aid workers said the exploitation is so widespread that some Syrian women refuse to go to distribution centres on the basis that they would immediately be labelled a prostitute.

Some women and girls “without male protectors”, such as widows, divorcees and refugges were allegedly forced to marry locally-hired officials working for the UN and other international charities for “sexual services” in order to receive meals.

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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report entitled “Voices from Syria 2018”, says: “Examples were given of women or girls marrying officials for a short period of time for ‘sexual services’ in order to receive meals; distributors asking for telephone numbers of women and girls; giving them lifts to their houses ‘to take something in return’ or obtaining distributions ‘in exchange for a visit to her home’ or ‘in exchange for services, such as spending a night with them,’”

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Danielle Spencer, a humanitarian adviser working for a charity said Syrian women made her aware of the grim news in a Jordanian refugee camp in March 2015.

“They were withholding aid that had been delivered and then using these women for sex,” she told the BBC.

It comes amid a growing list of allegations which have rocked the charity sector, after the recent claims that Oxfam bosses hired prostitutes during Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

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Spencer conducted a focus group with some of the women who told her how men from local councils in areas such as Daraa and Quneitra had offered them aid for sex.

In June 2015, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) questioned 190 women and girls from Dara’a and Quneitra and found over 40% had experienced sexual violence while trying to access humanitarian assistance.

The UN had been warned of such activity three years before, but as the report says, the abuse was continuing until at least late 2017.

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“I remember one woman crying in the room and she was very upset about what she had experienced. It was so endemic that they couldn’t actually go without being stigmatised.” Spencer said.

“It was assumed that if you go to these distributions, that you will have performed some kind of sexual act in return for aid,” she added.

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She told the BBC they had zero tolerance policies on exploitation and were not aware of any cases or complaints against partner organisations working on the ground.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls has been ignored, it’s been known about and ignored for seven years.” Spencer added: “The UN and the system as it currently stands have chosen for women’s bodies to be sacrificed.”

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