The United Nations said on Friday it will investigate allegations that survivors of a deadly cyclone in Mozambique are being forced to have sex with community leaders for food.
More than 1,000 people died and tens of thousands were forced from their homes when Cyclone Idai hammered Mozambique before moving inland to Malawi and Zimbabwe, in one of the worst climate-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere.
The U.N. pledge came a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) published accounts of female survivors who said they were abused by local leaders and as a second powerful storm, Cyclone Kenneth, pounded the impoverished southeast African nation.
“As with any report on sexual exploitation and abuse, we are acting swiftly to follow-up on these allegations, including with the relevant authorities,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement.
“The U.N. has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. It is not, and never will be, acceptable for any person in a position of power to abuse the most vulnerable, let alone in their time of greatest need.”