Friday, September 13, 2002

WFP to tackle Swazi food aid-for-sex trade

MBABANE — The trading of emergency food aid for sexual favours in Swaziland and pilfering of supplies has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to formulate an anti-abuse policy, the U.N. agency said on Friday.

"Warehouses are a problem, and truck drivers. Women have been told they must have sex with managers and drivers before they will receive food for their families. Children are also victims of this abuse." said Veli Riba, special programme coordinator for the U.N.'s children welfare organisation UNICEF.

About 144,000 Swazis, or one-sixth of the population, are currently without food due to crop failures blamed on erratic rainfall and government land mismanagement.

The number — which includes thousands of children — is expected to rise to 250,000 by the year end.

Mary Anne Marks, one of six WFP coordinators assigned to Southern African countries affected by acute food shortages, told Reuters the anti-abuse policy would be released next week.

"Food aid recipients will be informed of their rights, which is they are entitled to food free, with no conditions. Communities will be told to report abuses that occur," said Marks.

Swazi police are helping in the initiative to stamp out the food-for-sex trade.

The anti-abuse policy also covers pilfering. Food theft has been reported in the local press.

A training programme for food distributors working for agencies and non-governmental organisations will also be launched with the policy.

"We don't want… a situation where starving women and children had to give themselves to truck drivers and warehouse managers to receive food," Riba said.

She said UNICEF was involved in the food emergency because of the large number of affected children.

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Created: September 16, 2002
Last modified: September 16, 2002
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