Women In Syria Sexually Exploited In Return For Aid, According To New Report

Distributors would give women lifts to their houses for 'something in return'.


Women in Syria are being sexually exploited by men delivering aid on behalf of the UN and international charities to the war-torn country.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided an assessment of gender based violence in the region last year, and has found that humanitarian assistance was being exchanged for sex in different governorates in Syria.

Aid workers said the men would ask for sexual favours in return for food and lifts, according to the BBC. Workers added that the exploitation is so widespread that some Syrian women are refusing to go to distribution centres because people would assume they had exchanged sex for the aid they brought home.


In the report Voices from Syria 2018, it says 'concerns with access to humanitarian assistance were raised' and that 'distribution sites are often perceived as unsafe places, which are dominated by men'.

The report also stated: 'Examples were given of women or girls marrying officials for a short period of time for 'sexual services' in order to receive meals; distributors asking for telephone numbers of women and girls; giving them lifts to their houses 'to take something in return' or obtaining distributions 'in exchange for a visit to her home' or 'in exchange for services, such as spending a night with them'.'

It added: 'Women and girls 'without male protectors', such as widows and divorcees as well as female IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), were regarded as particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.'

Another aid worker claimed that some humanitarian agencies were ignoring the exploitation because using third parties and local officials is the only way to get aid into the unsafe parts of Syria that international staff were unable to access.

A spokesperson for The UN Refugee Agency told the BBC that while it had been aware of the allegations at the time, there had been insufficient information to identify and take action against any people or organisations.

The spokesperson added that the UNHCR had 'commissioned new research to find out more and additional efforts were made to strengthen prevention measures, reporting processes and training for local partners'.

The war in Syria has been ongoing since 2011, and the UN says at least 250,000 people have been killed in the past five years. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - a UK-based monitoring group - puts the death toll at more than 321,000, while a think-tank estimated in February 2016 that the war had caused 470,000 deaths.

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