Two people of a US aid agency are being investigated by Greek authorities following their accusations of sexually abusing refugees and exploiting funds. The European Commission decided to suspend funding to Mercy Corps’s Greek whilst investigating the issue.
The internal investigation
Last month, the charity, based in the US, warned EC and Greek authorities that they received a complaint and started an internal investigation.
“We are taking this extremely seriously,” Amy Fairbairn, Mercy Corps spokesman, said. “The EC has notified us that they have only suspended the final payment on a single grant in Greece pending the outcome of our investigation.”
Charity officials explained that the investigation is “comprehensive”. An expert in victims’ rights, sexual harassment and exploitation is leading the internal investigation.
In addition to frequently updating Greek prosecutors and officials since the complaint, authorities added that Mercy Corps has “zero tolerance for any form of harassment, exploitation, fraud or theft”.
The 2015-2016 accounts of Mercy Corps demonstrates that they got £11.5 million from the European Commission and even more than £32 million from Britain for operations around the world. Authorities from the Department of Developmental Aid stated DFID doesn’t back up or fund Mercy Corps Europe’s operation on Greece.
Mercy Corps refused to reveal any more details about the claims worrying over privacy of the plaintiff and the internal investigation integrity.
Mercy Corps led programs in Greece since August 2015 operating in Athens, Epirus and the islands of Lesvos, Kos, Rhodes and Leros.
Like many other NGOs in Greece, the European Commission provides Mercy Corps with a partial funding to help migrants as well as refugees especially Syrian ones.
It is worthy to note that there are a lot of Syrians who got stuck in Greece after fleeing Syria due to the Syrian crisis.