Liberia’s children face exploitation, sexual violence: report

Liberia’s children face exploitation, sexual violence: report
# 11 February 2010 02:42 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Liberian children are vulnerable to exploitation, partly because of poverty and sexual violence that remain rife in the west African nation, the UN peacekeeping mission said Wednesday, APA reports quoting AFP.
Releasing a report on the country’s human rights situation, the UN Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) secretary general Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu told journalists that "protection of children in particular remains inadequate."
"Extreme levels of poverty and high illiteracy rates, coupled with limited livelihood and economic opportunities have made children in post-conflict Liberia vulnerable to all forms of exploitation," she said.
Many children who should be in school are instead working to contribute to household incomes, the UN mission said.
Moreover, the situation of children in many orphanages was still dire and the "living conditions and quality of care and protection provided was generally poor," according to UNMIL’s January-June 2009 report.
Rape and sexual crimes, especially against girls, are still prevalent. Rape cases tend to be settled out of court.
Health care is often unavailable in rural areas and schools are generally ill-equipped, while "insufficient numbers of well trained and qualified teachers is still a challenge," the report said.
UNMIL was established in Liberia in 2003 when a peace agreement was signed ending a long running civil war that killed some 250,000 and left infrastructure shattered, slowing post-conflict development.
However the humanitarian situation has improved and UNMIL commended the establishment of an Independent National Commission of Human Rights.