UN,other aid workers abusing 6-yr-olds in Third World countries:rep

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London, May 27 (UNI) UN peacekeepers and aid workers continue to abuse sexually children as young as six despite repeated promises to tackle it, a report by a charity organisation found.

Save The Children discovered after its 12-month research that youngsters as young as six were trading sex for food, money, soap and even mobile phones in war zones and disaster areas.

All organisations, including itself, had their share of abusers involved in ''some of the most despicable abuse against some of the world's most vulnerable children'', the report said yesterday.

Elizabeth was 12 years old when she was dragged from the road into bushes by a UN peacekeaper and raped by 10 men, it claimed.

More than half of the children interviewed in three countries, Ivory Coast, South Sudan and Haiti, knew of cases of forced sex with aid staff or peacekeepers.

Its findings suggest a continuing lack of action despite promises to tackle alleged abuse made at a conference of UN officials and aid agencies in December 2006.

The overwhelming majority of those interviewed said that they would not report a case of abuse themselves and had never heard of others doing so, despite commitments from all humanitarian agencies that allegations would be dealt with sensitively but firmly.

Heather Kerr, Save The Children's country director in Ivory Coast, told the Daily Telegraph, ''Even one prosecution would show that local authorities will act, and that would be a big step forward.'' A spokesman for the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York said,''The abuse of children by those who are sent to help is a significant and painful issue and one that we have begun to address. We are doing everything we can to train and monitor our civilian staff.'' Most of the British-based agencies including Plan International, ActionAid and Care said that they supported the Save The Children report's call for a global watchdog to police sex abuse by aid staff.

UNI XC RJ GC2000

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