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UK Charity Commission reveals mass increase in complaints made about foreign aid sector

The UK charity regulator has received over 1,100 complaints about the handling of sex abuse scandals  

The UK charity watchdog reported a significant increase in number of complaints about foreign aid agencies since the Oxfam sex abuse allegations in Haiti.

The Charity Commission received 1,152 reports of “serious safeguarding incidents” since February about the way foreign aid agencies managed sex abuse allegations. This is about the same amount of complaints received in the whole of last year.

The head of the Charity Commission, Helen Stephenson, told a committee of MPs the reports came after the Oxfam scandal: “The number of reported incidents have gone up. They have levelled off but they have stayed at that level for the last four months.”

The Charity Commission did not elaborate on the nature of each of the incidents reported, but said they included child abuse in the final number.

This comes after executives from Oxfam UK used prostitutes in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Since then there have been allegations of sexual assault in Medecins Sans Frontieres UK and revelations that the UN knew about sex-for-food scandals.

The commission reported in April that it had opened 440 new cases after receiving 523 reports in February and March. Some of the new cases involved “potentially criminal” allegations that the regulator passed onto police at the time.

International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, told a parliamentary inquiry that there were signs sexual predators were leaving the aid sector amid the heightened “powerful messages” that followed the global criticism over the Oxfam sex scandals.

“The message from us is that we have made good strides, we will make further, and other donors are coming with us,” Mordaunt said. “So, if you are a predatory individual and you have been targeting the aid sector, your time to move on is now.”

Mordaunt will host a global summit in October aimed at getting leading donors and agencies to implement measures to prevent further sexual exploitation.

The International Development Committee is drawing up proposals for the summit. An official said that “nothing is any longer in the ‘too difficult’ box”.

One idea for the summit includes an “international humanitarian passport” for aid workers. This will be revoked if misconduct is found.

The inquiry also heard that the World Bank has banned all staff from using prostitutes even if it is legal in the country they are based. This comes after Oxfam ex-boss said they failed to report the sex scandal because prostitution was not illegal.


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