New York Times, 25th June 1987
The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Belgium resigned today after the disclosure of a child pornography case linked to the Belgian branch of the organization.
A spokesman at Unicef headquarters in Geneva said the head of the organization’s Belgian committee, Gilbert Jaeger, had resigned ”to show how angry he is about what has happened in his organization.”
In a statement issued in Geneva, Unicef said it is ”deeply shocked” by the scandal, which has led to 14 arrests in Belgium and others in Switzerland, France and Britain.
Unicef said it was investigating charges that the Belgian committee was linked to an organization producing pornographic photographs of children and distributing them throughout Europe.
Unicef’s mission is to help and protect the world’s children. Like many other United Nations bodies, it has independent volunteer committees in all Western industrial countries to raise money for its activities – in Unicef’s case, largely through the sale of holiday greeting cards. ‘The First to Suffer’
The Unicef statement noted that the organization spent $400 million last year on projects promoting the health, nutrition and education of children in developing countries. It is currently drafting an international convention for the protection of children’s rights, to be submitted later this year to the General Assembly in New York.
”The first to suffer from the discredit which would unjustly fall on this organization as a result of this affair would evidently be the children of the third world,” Unicef warned in the statement.
The scandal erupted last week, when the Belgian police arrested Jos Verbeek, 63 years old, the director of Unicef’s Belgian committee, and charged him with inciting minors to debauchery.
The arrest followed the discovery of a secret photographic studio in the basement of the Brussels building where the committee’s offices are housed. The studio was used to take pornographic photographs of children, many of whom were of North African origin, the police said.
The police said more than 1,000 such photographs were seized, along with a mailing list of some 400 names in 15 European countries that had been prepared on the Unicef office computer.
Similar photographs found in several other European countries appear to have been taken in the Unicef office in Brussels, according to investigators.
Among those arrested was another Unicef employee, Michel Felu, 45, who the police say organized evening computer classes for children in the organization’s offices. These children were then sometimes made to pose for pornographic photographs, the police said.