UN probes sex-for-food aid allegations in cyclone-hit Mozambique
SEE ALSO :Cyclone Idai: Girls are most at risk"The UN has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. It is not, and never will be, acceptable for any person in a position of power to abuse the most vulnerable, let alone in their time of greatest need." Officials from Mozambique's disaster management authority were not immediately available for comment. The UNOCHA said it had broadcast clear messaging through multiple communications channels that aid is free and sexual exploitation and abuse are unacceptable. The agency has also trained hundreds of aid workers and volunteers on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, it said, adding there were "established clear referral pathways for any potential case of sexual exploitation and abuse". HRW said they had spoken to 12 women in Mozambique's central Nhamatanda district who were sexually exploited, and also had accounts from aid workers and residents in other parts of the country hit by Idai, including the port city of Beira. The community leaders - believed to be linked to the ruling Frelimo party - demanded money from survivors to have their names included on aid distribution lists, while others coerced women into having sex for a bag of rice, said the rights group. "The sexual exploitation of women struggling to feed their families after Cyclone Idai is revolting and cruel and should be stopped immediately," said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch in a statement. "The authorities should promptly investigate reports of women being coerced into exchanging sex for food and appropriately punish anyone using their position of power to exploit and abuse women." International partners, particularly the U.N., should ensure greater oversight of the conduct of local officials during the distribution of humanitarian aid, added the rights group.
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