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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 11:19 GMT
Sex-for-aid under UN spotlight
Refugees in Liberia
Tens of thousands have fled west Africa's conflicts
A United Nations investigation into the sex-for-aid scandal heads for Sierra Leone on Friday after visiting refugee camps in Guinea.

The team from the UN's Refugee Agency, UNHCR, is trying to find out the extent of the abuse of women and children by aid-workers.

All those who sexually exploited refugees will be severely punished

Kamel Morjane
A study by the UNHCR and a UK charity made public last month found that some aid agency employees were exchanging food and other supplies for sex.

The leader of the UNHCR team said on Thursday that those named in the report would be moved, while in future more women would be hired.

"As far as we're concerned, all those who sexually exploited refugees will be severely punished and we even envisage prosecutions," said Kamel Morjane, number three at the UNHCR.

More refugees

He also took a swipe at the international community for cutting aid to African refugees in recent years.

"When an organisation like ours sees its budget cut by 20%, these kind of consequences have to be expected," he told journalists in the Guinean capital, Conakry.

Mr Morjane was speaking after visiting refugee camps in the Kissidougou region, near the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia.

While some Sierra Leonean refugees are now returning home after the civil war there was declared over in January, the UNHCR warns that thousands of refugees are leaving Liberia.

There has been an upsurge in fighting between government troops and rebels which has led 10,700 Liberians to flee into southern Sierra Leone.

See also:

27 Feb 02 | Africa
Aid-for-sex children speak out
26 Feb 02 | Africa
Child refugee sex scandal
13 Feb 02 | Africa
Sierra Leone refugees go home
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