Red Cross Says Staffers Bought Sex as ‘Large-Scale’ Sexual Exploitation in Aid Sector Rears Head

February 24, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

At least 21 staffers of the International Committee of the Red Cross have been dismissed since 2015 for paying for sexual services or resigned during an internal inquiry, the charity’s Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement.

“Another two staff members suspected of sexual misconduct did not have their contracts renewed,” he said.

This revelation comes as multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have come to light in the aid sector.

Massive international charity Oxfam was recently implicated in a sexual abuse scandal after The Times reported it obtained an internal confidential 2011 report that alleged staffers were hiring prostitutes in Haiti even as the country was devastated by a 2010 earthquake. They acted with a “culture of impunity” the report stated.

The paper talked to several “Oxfam insiders” who said some senior staffers were holding parties at an Oxfam-rented guest house with as many as five prostitutes at a time. Three sources were concerned that some of the girls were only 14-16 years old.

Oxfam told the paper the allegations of underaged prostitutes were not proven.

But the sources said the internal investigation was watered down to only uncover enough to fire the people implicated.

Epoch Times Photo
Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring (L) and Oxfam’s chair of trustees Caroline Thomson leave the Department for International Development (DFID) in central London on Feb. 12, 2018. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

U.K.’s former International Development Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC that the issue goes beyond the Oxfam scandal as there is “a culture of denial in the aid sector about the exploitation and sexual abuse that has taken place historically for decades.”

Daccord said that since 2006, all of the Red Cross’s more than 17,000 staffers are contractually forbidden to buy sexual services.

“We are concerned that incidents that should be reported have not yet been reported, or were reported but not properly handled,” he said.

In Oxfam’s case, the charity withheld specifics of the allegations from the public to avoid scrutiny, based on what its chief executive, Mark Goldring, told the BBC.

“I don’t think it was in anyone’s best interest to be describing the details of the behavior in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid program,” he said.

“We have to recognize that this is not the occasional bad apple but a structural sector-wide problem,” said Kevin Watkins, chief executive of the charity Save the Children, WTVA reported.

“This is a real problem, it is systemic, it’s a large-scale problem and we have to fix it,” he said, talking to the U.K.’s House of Commons International Development Committee.

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