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Sexual violations and corruption… Reports accusing the “Children’s Villages International” of assaulting minors


During the “internal examination” process, an independent audit team was commissioned, led by Willy Mutunga, former President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

From Latin America to Asia, the international NGO Children’s Villages (SOS) has covered up numerous cases of sexual violence and corruption since the 1980s, according to a final report published Wednesday.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, the organization’s director-general, Ingrid Johansen, spoke of a document that was “difficult to read” but testified to a desire for “broader transparency”.

Upon taking office in 2021, the Scandinavian official pledged to “fix the mistakes of the past” and fight to regain donor trust.

During the “internal examination” process, an independent audit team was commissioned, led by Willy Mutunga, former President of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

The aim of the operation was to shed light on a series of cases of abuse within the organization, which was founded in 1949 in Austria to help orphans and children who do not have adequate family care.

With 2.5 million minors and their relatives registered in 137 countries and territories in 2022, SOS Children’s Villages presents itself as the “largest global organization” of its kind.

“a culture of fear”

The 10-member commission of inquiry visited dozens of countries, surveyed thousands of archival documents and conducted 188 interviews with alleged victims, former officials and current supervisors.

On the pages of the 262-page report, a bleak picture paints.

“We confirm the serious accusations of abuse” against minors in several countries, said the text, seen by Agence France-Presse.

“Many cases of child pregnancies” were documented, especially as a result of rape, and young girls underwent “forced abortions” without “obtaining the consent of the families.”

In Nepal, a large financial supporter was received in a center in an “against the rules” and abused children between 2010 and 2014, and one of the children was even sent to visit him in Austria.

Scandals were covered up, intimidation reported, evidence destroyed and not reported to the authorities.

In Panama, where the Commission of Inquiry noted the existence of a “culture of fear”, a victim was forced to recant her accusation before being placed in solitary confinement and then forced to leave the institution.

The report generally denounces “the desire to protect the organization” at the expense of the interests of the child.

Taking children from their families

In addition to Nepal and Panama, investigators confirmed significant failures in Cambodia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Syria.

In Syria, SOS Children’s Villages, one of the few NGOs that continued to operate during the war, has since 2015 received children forcibly separated from their families opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“They have been reunited with their loved ones and none of them are any longer part of our programmes,” Ingrid Johansen explained.

More recently, the NGO’s Russian branch was suspended from membership after press revelations accused it of sponsoring Ukrainian children who may have been “deported” by Russia.

“Since this is a serious accusation, the procedure will remain in force until we are absolutely certain that everything is in order,” the director-general said.

In addition to cases of mistreatment, the document speaks of a “large number” of embezzlement, abuse of power, and irregularities in awarding contracts, some of which are worth “millions of dollars.”

Children’s Villages (SOS) confirms its desire to solve all problems globally, it has created the position of defender of rights, replaced more than half of the members of the management and strengthened the reception centers.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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