HRW calls on Mozambique to investigate officials extorting sex from women seeking aid after Cyclone Idai
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HRW calls on Mozambique to investigate officials extorting sex from women seeking aid after Cyclone Idai

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Mozambique on Thursday to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute local officials who extort money and sexual favors from those seeking aid.

In March Cylcone Idai devastated villages in the Manica, Sofala, and Zambezia regions of Mozambique and left more than 1.85 million civilians in need of aid. Despite the UN’s response, it remains difficult for aid to reach remote areas of the country and local leaders are accused of worsening the problem by demanding money and sex from victims of the recent disaster in return for aid.

Human Rights Watch reported that single women and families headed by women are particularly vulnerable because local leaders often only place the names of male heads of household on aid distribution lists.

HRW spoke with three women from the town of Mbimbir who reported that they were forced to have sexual relations with local leaders in order to receive aid. HRW also spoke with two women from the Nhamatanda district who alleged similar treatment by local leaders but refused to give details because they feared reprisals. 

HRW cited the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement that states that all victims have a right to relief following natural disasters and called on officials administering aid to respect the human rights of those seeking assistance.