Red Cross and Plan International admit cases of sexual misconduct

24 February 2018, 08:08

More charities have revealed cases of sexual misconduct among staff and associates in the wake of the Oxfam scandal.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed 21 workers had been sacked or resigned from their roles since 2015, after paying for sexual services.

The charity admitted it should have been more vigilant and said it was "deeply saddened".

It comes as children's aid charity Plan International admitted six cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children between July 2016 and June 2017.

One involved a staff member who was dismissed, the charity said in a statement on its website, while the other five involved volunteers or partner organisations, whose contracts were terminated.

Five of the cases "were of a criminal nature" and were reported to local authorities.

During the same period there were nine incidents of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by staff on other adults, which led to seven dismissals and two warnings about inappropriate language, the statement said.

Plan International campaigns for children's rights and provides aid for more than 50 countries to improve access to food, water, shelter and education.

In its statement, first published as a blog post by Plan International UK chief executive Tanya Barron, the charity said: "Sadly, as an aid community, we are not immune from the utterly unacceptable actions of a small number of those who work for and with us."

It added: "The painful but important truth to acknowledge is that sometimes things can go wrong. When they do, we are deeply sorry.

"We are fully committed to efforts among NGOs, government and the United Nations to make sure we do everything within our power to stop abuse, including strengthening our approaches to safeguarding and HR, and creating a culture that encourages staff to speak out."

The charity said none of the incidents involved British staff or citizens.

The British Red Cross, in a statement released on Friday, also said there had been no dismissals of British staff working overseas for reasons relating to sexual misconduct in the past five years.

International Red Cross director-general Yves Daccord said he was "deeply saddened to report" the incidents of misconduct.

He said: "This behaviour is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are there to serve. It is against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this.

"The ICRC has more than 17,000 staff members worldwide. We are concerned that incidents that should be reported have not yet been reported, or were reported but not properly handled. We are taking action to address this."

The admissions follow a wave of allegations of sex abuse and exploitation involving workers in the charity sector which began when it was claimed Oxfam GB had covered up claims of sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti.

The charity was hit by allegations senior staff used prostitutes while part of an international response to the devastating earthquake in 2010. Since then, Haiti has suspended Oxfam GB from operating in the country.