Six aid agencies open about sex abuse cases amid Oxfam scandal

14 Feb 2018, 09:39


London: Only six out of 10 global aid agencies were willing to disclose the extent of sex abuse by their staff in an exclusive survey, as a major sex scandal involving British charity Oxfam ricochets through the sector.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation in November asked 10 leading aid agencies for figures on sex abuse cases, as well as how many staff members were sacked as a result, as sexual harassment scandals hit Hollywood and beyond.

At the time of publishing, only two groups —Save the Children and Oxfam— provided numbers, with 16 and 22 staff respectively sacked over the past year. Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) replied days later.

But with Oxfam under fire in recent days over sexual misconduct accusations in Haiti and Chad that threaten the group’s UK government and EU funding, two other humanitarian groups on Tuesday produced numbers when asked again.

Four did not give answers.

Several industry experts have warned that the backlash against Oxfam could drive charities to cover up cases of sex abuse for fear of losing support and funding from the public, donors and governments.

Aid agency World Vision said on Tuesday there were 10 incidents in 2016 involving either sexual exploitation or abuse of a child involved in one of the charity’s activities.

Out of 50,000 staff and volunteers, the Christian development agency said it recorded four cases of workplace sexual harassment. It was yet to say how many people were fired.

‘We have a zero-tolerance policy of incidents of violence against children committed by our staff or volunteers,’ said spokesman Henry Makiwa, adding it publicly discloses sex abuse figures each year.