Shocking revelations within SOS Children’s Villages. The international NGO which helps orphans and children in need all over the world, announced Thursday to investigate cases of violence, especially sexual, and fraud committed since the 1990s in about twenty of its structures.
The co-director of the founding association based in Austria, Elisabeth Hauser, revealed in a statement “cases of serious violations of child protection and mismanagement in some countries in Africa and Asia”, saying to herself “Deeply shocked”. “There are obvious weaknesses in our organization (…) and accusations that the leaders of SOS Children’s Villages were aware of certain incidents but did not take action,” she added.
Child placed in solitary confinement for poor school performance
According to a spokeswoman in Vienna, “sexual abuse” has been reported, while whistleblowers have been “dismissed” and the word of minors “questioned”. For example, Elisabeth Hauser brought up to the press the case of a child placed in solitary confinement and subject to a ban on visiting his own parents, due to poor school results.
Regarding the inappropriate management of funds, the director mentioned calls for tenders for works won by relatives of officials of SOS Children’s Villages.
The CEO of the International Federation Ingrid Maria Johansen presented her “apologies to the children and young people” who were victims of this abuse. “New measures” were “immediately” put in place to support them and prevent such problems from recurring in the future, according to a statement posted on the site.
The NGO, which launched a first internal review three years ago and ordered a further investigation in November 2020, reported the creation of an independent commission to shed light on these events. It plans to compensate the victims, whose number is not specified, using a fund of “several million euros,” said Elisabeth Hauser.
1.2 million orphans or children in need taken care of
Founded after the Second World War in Austria, the organization, today present in 137 countries where it manages around 550 charitable structures and has 40,000 employees, supports 1.2 million orphans or children in need through the world, according to figures communicated by the representative in Vienna.
In 2014, SOS Children’s Village had already faced accusations of child abuse in Austria, over a period from the 1950s to the 1990s.