Senior UNHCR official to visit West Africa in wake of child abuse allegations
A senior official from UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, set out today on a visit to West Africa to get a first-hand view of efforts to strengthen the protection of children in the region’s refugee camps following allegations that surfaced last week that aid workers exchanged humanitarian assistance for sexual favours.
At the request of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane left Geneva this morning for Conakry, Guinea. On Friday, he is scheduled to travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
According to a spokesman for the agency, Mr. Morjane has no plans to travel to Liberia, which is currently facing renewed conflict and displacement.
UNHCR staff in Liberia and Sierra Leone “are grappling with a new flow of more than 10,000 Liberian refugees, as well as more than 7,000 Sierra Leonean refugees who have returned in recent weeks,” spokesman Kris Janowski told a press briefing in Geneva. “Thrice-weekly repatriation convoys continue from Liberia, as do new arrivals of Liberians – mostly in the Sierra Leonean border town of Jendema.”
Additional emergency staff arrived in Sierra Leone today, bringing to 15 the number of staff deployed since last week, Mr. Janowski said, with another eight staff expected to arrive this week.