Wednesday, July 03, 2024

  • Wednesday, July 03, 2024
  • Elder of Ziyon

In May, I reported that a UN report indicated that Gaza aid workers were sexually abusing Gaza women, including by forcing women into prostitution for food.

I had seen hints of sexual abuse by aid workers in Gaza and the West Bank last July, before the war. Now, things seem to have gotten worse. 

I found a UN report from April that gives more information, although scant details, on how aid workers in Gaza are taking advantage of women sexually. It is the "Risk mitigation assessment report to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," by the PSEA Network. (PSEA stands for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.)

The report says:

According to the SEARO 2022 Index, Palestine ranked in the 20th position among the context with higher risks of SEA. Yet, the onset of the war has challenged the resilience of the network and a completely different context is unfolding with important emergent risks of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers and related personnel.

Food insecurity, loss of livelihoods, and acute aid dependency are highly engendered matters that further expose women and children to SGBV [sexual gender-based violence] and VAC [violence against children], including by Aid Workers

[H]umanitarian actors must scale up their PSEA and Safeguarding capacity to prevent an epidemic of SEA abuses committed by personnel related to humanitarian operations. This should be also seconded by programmatic actions to protect  the most vulnerable from sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers but also other actors. 

If I am understanding this next section correctly, they are saying that while they want to protect women from abuse by aid workers, they don't want to publicize the fact that aid workers are abusing Palestinian women - because it could have "uncontrolled political manipulation."

For national staff represents the immense majority of the aid workers presence in the Gaza Strip and they suffer the exactly same conditions as the community they serve. There is an important percentage of national aid workers trained on PSEA and the interagency system is well known and well consolidated. Yet it must be revamped. Communities and aid staff will largely support protection of communities against sexual exploitation and abuse, and the often relay on customary mechanisms to deal with allegations. Reporting SEA is still stigmatized but there is a renewed concern to protect communities from further harm. Safeguarding claims, nonetheless, shows the pick of the iceberg of misconduct of aid workers and poses risk for the communities, aid staff and aid institutions alike. 

Identified risks are: 
- Humanitarian aid diverted causing further harm to the community and increasing tensions
- Potential retaliation against aid workers (physical harm) 
- Lost of trust in aid institutions calling for further acts of incivility: deterioration of the operational environment 
- Media attention to safeguarding incidents which can also have an uncontrolled political manipulation 
This is why it is so difficult to find this kind of information. The UN must report it, but they do everything possible to hide the details and bury it in reports that have limited distribution. 

They know that this is the sort of thing that can generate headlines worldwide, and aid workers want to protect the reputations of their organizations. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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