Safeguard Gaps Leave Refugees Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse, Exploitation

Jordan church got hundreds of thousands of dollars in international Christian aid, but little to no oversight.

A 23-year-old refugee from Syria was surprised when an aid worker told her that he had a special fund to help her. The Jordanian Christian said he could provide her with more than the mattress, coat, cookstove, and gas bottles that the others got from the local Christian and Missionary Alliance church. Maybe a washing machine. Or even a flat-screen TV.

When he came to her home after midnight with a special delivery, she understood the man wanted something in return.

“He touched my hand and tried to kiss me,” the woman said in an Arabic statement obtained by Christianity Today. “I pulled back. . . . After that, there was no help from the church.”

The Jordanian church’s refugee aid program was given hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for seven years by more than half a dozen international Christian aid agencies and scores of North American churches. Neither the churches nor the aid organizations appear to have ever checked to see whether their local partner had any policies to protect vulnerable women against sexual exploitation. The church did not have a reporting mechanism for abuse complaints, unless refugees wanted to go to the pastor of the church, who is the brother of the accused man.

“Leaders at the church had been hearing this for years. Pastors did nothing for years,” an American Christian woman who has worked in the area for more than a decade told CT. She spoke on the condition that her identity be concealed because she works for a Christian organization that hopes to continue partnering with the church.

“It got to be common knowledge amongst the Syrians. They would say, ‘If you want help from the church, send your young, pretty girls,’” she said. …

Continue reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.