Volunteers and Staff Members at UK Aid Charities Accused of Sexual Misconduct

[Picture: Penny Mordaunt, by UK Government]

By Stefan Matias Kløvning

UK – 192 aid charities have recently been preparing for handing in their reports to the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on February 26 about how they have been protecting children and vulnerable people. It has recently been revealed, however, that many of these has had both volunteers and staff members who have participated in sexual misconduct, abuse, or harassment upon the vulnerable people they are supposed to protect and aid.

These organizations include the British Red Cross, who has had 15 volunteers (out of 20,000 total) investigated for sexual misconduct, dismissing 11 of them. They have also investigated three of their staff members on this. A spokesperson for the charity said about the issue, “We condemn all forms of sexual harassment or misconduct and do not tolerate any form of this behaviour.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had up to 21 members of its staff leaving after it being revealed them having paid for sexual services. Yves Daccord, the director-general of the ICRC, said “this behavior is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are here to serve. It is against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this.”

What’s more, a scandal has recently emerged after it was discovered that Oxfam has received 26 new allegations of sexual misconduct relating to incidences from 1995 to the present, causing 7,000 donors to end their subscriptions. 16 of these allegedly occurred in countries where Oxfam ran aid operations, seven in high street charity shops in UK and three in “other UK-based divisions.” Mrs. Mordaunt has said that these officials have “betrayed the public” and possibly have misled the authorities and charity regulators. She also warned that Britain might end funding for the United Nations if it doesn’t stop its exploitation and abuse.

The international charity organization Plan International has also had members doing this. The organization has confirmed six instances by its staff members, volunteers and partner organizations on sexual abuse and exploitation of children between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. They have made clear in the report, however, that no British citizens or Plan International UK staff has been involved in any of these cases. The staff member and the volunteers were dismissed from the organization, as five of the cases were of criminal nature.

Tory member Pauline Latham of the International Development committee stated that she was shocked of all these cases being revealed:

It shows that the aid industry has degenerated from many people doing good in the work to a number of men abusing the trust some of the most vulnerable women and girls in the world put in them.

Several of the organizations included in these scandals have been trying to regain their initiative in the story by posting formal apologies. Chief Executive of Oxfam Mark Goldring running Save the Children UK, for instance, said “We are truly sorry that at times our sector has failed. We must and will do better.”