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Orphanages vulnerable to volunteers with the wrong motives

Updated måndag 3 juni 2013 kl 10.20
Published söndag 2 juni 2013 kl 13.41
A home for children in Cambodia. Photo: Mikael Sjödell/SR Kaliber

Orphans in Cambodia and other countries are vulnerable to foreign volunteers who may have sinister motives for helping at orphanages, reports Swedish Radio's investigative program Kaliber.

When Kaliber's reporter applied to the volunteer travel agency Projects Abroad, one of the biggest of its kind internationally, in order to work with children in Cambodia, no background checks were made at all, despite the fact that the country is notorious as a target for child sex tourism.

While the reporter was told that Project Abroad volunteers have to give references and that their criminal records are checked, none of that happened when he applied as an ordinary volunteer.

Later, Lars Lindberg from the Swedish office of Projects Abroad told Kaliber that the company failed in its routines, and that they should work.

Rana Flowers, who works for UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund, in Cambodia, says it is a big problem that foreign volunteers are not checked by the companies who send them to work with children abroad, considering that there could be pedophiles among the volunteers.

“Unquestionably we get a mix of volunteers," she says, "some of whom are pedophiles who want to access to children and that causes problems in terms of exploitation and abuse”

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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