MPs crit­i­cise aid sec­tor re­sponse to abuse scan­dal

Pic­tures by Rankin aim to in­spire cre­ativ­ity ‘Hor­ror’ which must be con­fronted

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS -

The in­ter­na­tional aid sec­tor is guilty of “com­pla­cency verg­ing on com­plic­ity” over its sex abuse scan­dal, a new re­port from a West­min­ster com­mit­tee said.

The de­liv­ery of aid to peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties in cri­sis has been sub­verted by sex­ual preda­tors, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port from the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee, with only su­per­fi­cial ac­tion to tackle it.

Com­mit­tee chair­man Stephen Twigg has set out how abuse re­mains “en­demic” and the sec­tor “de­luded” in its de­nial of “the hor­ror of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion and abuse” (SEA).

He said: “Hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions and the UN can­not con­tinue a ‘cul­ture of de­nial’ when con­fronted with al­le­ga­tions of SEA.”

The com­mit­tee is deeply con­cerned pre­vi­ous at­tempts have amounted to lim­ited ac­tion “to quell me­dia clam­our”, with no last­ing im­pact or re­dress.

“No mat­ter how in­sur­mount­able this looks, so­lu­tions must be found. This hor­ror must be con­fronted.”

The re­port, Sex­ual Ex­ploita­tion And Abuse In The Aid Sec­tor, comes in the wake of the ex­po­sure of abuse in Haiti, bro­ken by The Times six months ago.

It high­lights a lack of bar­ri­ers, mak­ing aid an “at­trac­tive sec­tor for peo­ple wish­ing to ex­ploit oth­ers”, and out­lines “sys­tem­atic crim­i­nal sex­ual ex­ploita­tion” – for ex­am­ple in the form of hu­man traf­fick­ing into pros­ti­tu­tion – as a re­sult.

Mr Twigg was fiercely crit­i­cal of the re­cent re­sponse from aid agen­cies, which he ac­cused of be­ing driven by con­cern for rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment and fail­ing to bring about mean­ing­ful change.

“Many things have changed in that time with the aid sec­tor, Char­ity Com­mis­sion and DfID (Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment) tak­ing steps to re­spond to the cri­sis,” he said.

“One thing has not: the ab­ject fail­ure of the in­ter­na­tional aid sec­tor to get to grips with this is­sue, leav­ing vic­tims at the mercy of those who seek to use power to abuse oth­ers. This must be tack­led.

“V i c t i m s a n d whistle­blow­ers must not end up feel­ing pe­nalised for speak­ing out.”

The re­port calls for a ze­ro­tol­er­ance ap­proach, which em­pow­ers ben­e­fi­cia­ries of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, seeks out any is­sues and re­sponds ro­bustly, as well as demon­strat­ing “trans­parency over rep­u­ta­tion”.

MPs also want much stronger screen­ing for known sex­ual preda­tors, in­clud­ing a global reg­is­ter of aid work­ers who will op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to ex­pected stan­dards, and an in­de­pen­dent aid om­buds­man to pro­vide a right to ap­peal.

DfID has been called on to pro­vide an­nual up­dates on safe­guard­ing per­for­mance.

These would in­clude de­tails of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and “space for the voices of vic­tims and sur­vivors to be heard”.

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