News World Aid sector blasted as 'last safe haven' for sex abusers

Aid sector blasted as ‘last safe haven’ for sex abusers

The aid sector is rife with sexual abuse, British lawmakers said on Thursday, calling it “the last safe haven for perpetrators” despite a slew of scandals that prompted promises of a clean up.

Lawmakers rounded on the international aid sector, saying abusers were too often allowed to act with impunity while victims felt frustrated in their search for justice.

“Our inquiry has found that abuse of beneficiaries is rife, and that the sector has effectively become the last safe haven for perpetrators,” said Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee.

“We heard repeatedly of abusers acting with impunity, whistle-blowers being hounded out of their jobs and victims finding it impossible to secure justice,” Champion said in a statement as her committee released its report on the sector.

The aid world came under scrutiny after it emerged in 2018 that Oxfam staff had used prostitutes in Haiti during an earthquake relief mission in 2010.

Despite high-profile pledges of action, an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian in September found sex-for-jobs abuse of women by aid workers was an “open secret” during the 2018-20 Ebola response in Congo.

Aid organisations have made improvements in tackling sexual abuse in recent years, said lawmakers, including introducing new staff training and tightening whistle-blower protections.

But the Congo case highlighted that despite “warm words”, many agencies were too often failing to get a handle on abuse, the report found, with victims left unaware of reporting mechanisms and mistrustful of aid groups.

Organisations should work with communities where the aid is delivered to develop schemes for reporting any abuse, it said.

The report also raised concerns that allegations were not always effectively investigated or reported to police, meaning abusers might escape punishment and move on to new jobs.

Lawmakers said that increasing the use of local justice systems could deter abuse and increase prosecutions.

It also singled out the United Nations, saying it should not use rights of immunity from prosecution during missions as a shield to protect abuse perpetrators.

“The UN does not consider immunity to be a barrier to national investigation or national court litigation in cases of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse,” a U.N. spokesman said in comments emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The Organization remains ready to continue to cooperate with relevant authorities regarding this and other matters.”

The report was welcomed by Bond, a network for international development agencies, which called on the sector to prioritise the vulnerable people it is there to help.

“The aid sector should put these groups at the heart of developing programmes and reporting mechanisms and ensure communities know their rights,” said its chief executive Stephanie Draper.


Top Stories

164 new cases, one death announced on Thursday

The Health Ministry announced the death of one person due to COVID-19. This raises the death toll from the virus in Cyprus to 178,...

Where to get antigen rapid tests on Friday

The Health Ministry announced the following antigen rapid test sites for Friday, 22 January 2021: LIMASSOL Parking place Sklavenitis supermarket, Germasogia 08:30-16:30 Parking place Lidl supermarket, Limassol...

Alcohol consumption among Cypriot students high

Alcohol consumption among students has been reduced, the Cyprus National Addictions Authority ascertained on the basis of a European research, conducted every four years....

Earthquake measuring 5 felt all over Cyprus

An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale occurred around 16:30 and was felt all over Cyprus. Due to the earthquake, the Parliament session that...

UK hits 5m vaccine doses as health minister defends scheduling change

British health minister Matt Hancock on Thursday (January 21) lamented another record daily number of COVID-19 deaths, but hailed the achievements of the UK's...


Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...


No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...