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EU suspends funding to NGO aiding refugees in Greece following claims of sexual abuse and corruption

The European Union has suspended funding to a non-government organization (NGO) aiding refugees in Greece pending an investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation and financial corruption, a spokesman for European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has said.

“Although these remain allegations under investigation, the Commission is taking them very seriously,” the spokesman said in a statement.

“We take a zero tolerance approach to any abuse of the rights and personal integrity of all refugees and migrants as well as to any misuse of funds,” he said.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of the potential victims. Accordingly, we shall ensure that immediate support is provided to them,” Stylianides’ spokesman said.

Citing the EU Commissioner’s office, realnews.gr reports that one of the complaints submitted refer to “a case of possible sexual exploitation of the beneficiaries by the members of the partner’s staff [of the NGO]” while another complaint “another complaint refers to possible economic corruption by these staff members.” In the last case, the NGO is suspected to have receive funds to aid refugees but the money was used to other purposes.

The spokesman said the Commission had already informed the Greek authorities and submitted the case to OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office for immediate investigation.

He did not name the NGO under investigation.

Harvard report

According to a report from Harvard University published earlier this year, unaccompanied child refugees in Greece are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers to help them reach their desired European destination.

The report, produced by Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Prof Jacqueline Bhabha at the university’s centre for health and human rights, exposed a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece.”

Unaccompanied child refugees in Greece desperate to reach Britain and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies for sex in order to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys, a report from Harvard University claims.

The report, from Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Prof Jacqueline Bhabha at the university’s centre for health and human rights, reveals what they describe as a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece”.

The report says child refugees from conflict zones including Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan trying to make their way across Europe are being stranded in Greece, unable to afford the fees charged by smugglers to move them.

As a result some of the children are turning to selling sex to try to fund their journeys.

Report author Digidiki said: “This emergency can no longer be ignored. We can no longer sit idle while migrant children are abused and forced to sell their bodies in broad daylight and plain sight in the heart of Athens simply to survive.”

The Harvard report have found that the average price of a sexual transaction with a child is 15 Euros (US$16). The largest group of children selling sex are Afghani boys along with Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians. The majority of customers are older men aged 35 and over.

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