By Virginia Hale
Aid workers at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) traded medicine for sex with vulnerable young women in Africa, former employees of the open borders-backing NGO have alleged.
One of the female former employees, who were speaking anonymously for fear of being blacklisted by aid charities, reported seeing a senior member of staff bringing “very young girls” back to MSF accommodation in Kenya, adding that it was “implicit” they were prostitutes.
“My colleague, who was staying in the same residence for a long time, felt that this was a regular occurrence,” she said.
Another whistleblower reported she was shocked after hearing a senior aid worker boast it was “so easy” swapping medicinal supplies for sex while stationed in Liberia.
“I thought, ‘what did he just say?’ He was suggesting lots of the young girls who had lost their parents in the Ebola crisis that they would do anything sexual in exchange for medication,” she told the BBC.
Commenting on whether MSF was aware of allegations that staff were using prostitutes, one former worker said she believes the organisation has a blind spot regarding “some of the older guys … [who have been at the NGO] for a long time and took advantage of their exalted status as a Western aid worker”.
“It could have been that senior management wasn’t aware of it, but there’s definitely a feeling that certain men who behave in that predatory manner are seen as too big to fail,” she said.
Responding to the claims, an MSF spokesman said: “We do not tolerate abuse, harassment or exploitation within MSF. We are sorry for any instances where people have been subjected to harassment or abuse or have otherwise been 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,” she said, urging anyone with concerns about inappropriate behaviour to report them through the NGO’s confidential whistleblowing scheme.
In June 2016, MSF announced it would no longer take money from EU member states or Brussels in protest at the bloc’s “attempts to push people and their suffering away from European shores” through its migration deal with Turkey.
The aid sector has been engulfed in scandal in recent months, with Haiti last week statingit was withdrawing Oxfam Great Britain’s right to operate in the country after sex for aid allegations and claims of rape and sexual assault by staff in South Sudan.