Doctors Without Borders workers accused of 'prostitutes in exchange for medicines in Africa' remarks

Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders workers are accused of asking for sexual favours from prostitutes in Africa, in exchange for medicines

Agence France-Presse June 22, 2018 15:30:18 IST
Doctors Without Borders workers accused of 'prostitutes in exchange for medicines in Africa' remarks

London: Aid workers for charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) used prostitutes in Africa, a BBC report said on Thursday citing anonymous whistleblowers who also reported boasts of trading medicine for sex.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it took the allegations seriously but had been unable to confirm the claims and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The allegations follow a crisis at British charity Oxfam over claims that its workers used prostitutes while stationed in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. A former employee based in MSF's London office told the BBC she had seen a senior staff member bring girls back to MSF accommodation while posted in Kenya.

Doctors Without Borders workers accused of prostitutes in exchange for medicines in Africa remarks

Representational image of Doctors Without Borders workers. Reuters

"The girls were very young and rumoured to be prostitutes," she said, adding that it was "implicit" that they were there for sex. She said some of the older, long-standing male aid workers took advantage of their positions. "I felt that, with some of the older guys, there was definitely an abuse of power," she said. "They'd been there for a long time and took advantage of their exalted status as a Western aid worker."

She questioned what the NGO knew, saying, "There's definitely a feeling that certain predatory men were seen as too big to fail." Another female employee who worked with HIV patients in central Africa said the use of local sex workers was widespread. "There was this older colleague, who actually moved a woman into the (NGO) compound. It was pretty obvious that she was a prostitute but he'd call her his girlfriend," she said. A third whistleblower described how a senior colleague boasted of trading medication for sex with girls in Ebola-hit Liberia. "He said, 'Oh it's so easy. It's so easy to barter medication with these easy girls in Liberia'," she told the programme. "He was suggesting lots of the young girls who had lost their parents to the Ebola crisis, that they would do anything sexual in return for medication." The BBC said it had not been able to verify that particular allegation.

In a statement, the agency said, "We do not tolerate abuse, harassment or exploitation within MSF."

"We are sorry for any instances where people have been subjected to harassment, abuse or otherwise mistreated and/or felt that it was not adequately dealt with. We know that MSF is not immune to these issues and we take any reports seriously," the NGO's statement said.

But it said that "based on the information provided, we have been unable to confirm the specific allegations". "We would urge anyone with any concerns to report them via MSF's confidential whistleblowing mechanisms so that we can take action," it said.

The NGO said it had complaints procedures in place but "we know we need to do more to ensure that they are known, trusted and used by the people who need them".

Updated Date:

also read

England coach Chris Silverwood to take a breather during Sri Lanka, Pakistan ODIs at home
First Cricket News

England coach Chris Silverwood to take a breather during Sri Lanka, Pakistan ODIs at home

Silverwood believes the rest and rotation policy England are adopting with their players also applies to the coaching staff.

England team director Ashley Giles says no plans on rushing IPL stars back into action in New Zealand Tests
First Cricket News

England team director Ashley Giles says no plans on rushing IPL stars back into action in New Zealand Tests

The suspension of the IPL because of the devastating coronavirus outbreak in India has left England with a potentially larger player pool than they envisaged for the two-Test series against New Zealand.

South Africa to tour West Indies for two Tests, five T20Is in June
First Cricket News

South Africa to tour West Indies for two Tests, five T20Is in June

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith said South Africa would play two Test matches and five Twenty20 internationals in the Caribbean during a tour which will start in early June at venues which had still to be finalised.