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Sexual exploitation and abuse allegations 

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Humanitarian aid

There is continued media coverage today (Sunday 11 February) of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 and other charity workers.

The International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning discussing how the UK is tackling sexual exploitation and abuse that continues to exist in the aid sector.  Her comments were also picked up by other outlets, including BBC Online, The Sun, MailOnline and ITV.

In a statement issued today, Ms Mordaunt said: 

“My absolute priority is to keep the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people safe from harm. In the 21st century, it is utterly despicable that sexual exploitation and abuse continues to exist in the aid sector. The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 is an example of a wider issue on which DFID is already taking action, both at home and with the international community via the UN.

“We will do everything in our power to support the vital work of the Charity Commission to properly regulate UK charities that work overseas. This week I will meet with the Charity Commission to discuss what more we can do. And I am writing to all UK charities which receive UK aid, insisting that they spell out the steps they are taking to ensure their safeguarding policies are fully in place and work properly, declare all safeguarding concerns they are aware of, and confirm they have referred all concerns they have about specific cases and individuals to the relevant authorities.

“With regard to Oxfam and any other organisation that has safeguarding issues, we expect them to cooperate fully with such authorities, and we will cease to fund any organisation that does not.

"At the global End Violence Solutions Summit in Stockholm next week, I will firmly demand all donors and development organisations show leadership and take action alongside the UK on this issue. I am very clear: we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require.”

With regard to Oxfam, she acknowledged that hundreds of Oxfam staff have done no wrong and work tirelessly for the people they serve, but the handling by the senior team about this investigation and their openness with us and the charity commission showed a lack of judgement.‎ She is meeting senior members of the Oxfam team tomorrow.

On aid more generally, she said that this does a huge amount of good around the world and it’s also good for the UK as it makes us more prosperous and more secure.


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