Saturday 26 September 2020

Dutch foreign minister warns aid groups about sexual abuse

Dutch foreign affairs minister Sigrid Kaag has told aid agencies that she wants to know if any of their staff have been involved in sexually inappropriate behaviour, following the reports of Oxfam sex parties in Haiti.

Kaag has told aid groups they must be open about any issues and take measures to stop abuse in the future. Those which fail to act could risk their government grants, the minister said.

In the letter, the minister said she had been deeply shocked by the revelations and that she is aware of the great wrong which has been done to the victims.

The minister has organised a meeting between aid groups at the end of the month to discuss what can be done to prevent these sort of events happening in the future.

The Dutch arm of Oxfam has admitted it knew in 2012 about the Haiti sex scandal which has engulfed its sister organisation in Britain. Director Farah Karimi said she had been told not to do anything about the information in public although the internal report was shared with the foreign ministry and government auditors.

Medical aid group Médecins sans Frontières has admitted that last year its staff were involved in 24 cases of sexual abuse or other inappropriate behaviour, of whom seven fell under the responsibility of the Dutch department. Five of them were sacked, the aid group said.

Prevention

‘We do everything we can to prevent it and we have rules which should be adhered to,’ MSF director Nelke Manders said last week. ‘If there is an incident, then we respond very carefully. Transparency is crucial.’

The global organisation has over 40,000 members of staff, of whom 10,000 fall under the Dutch division.

The Dutch Red Cross has dealt with three reports of sexual misconduct in the past 15 years, the NRC said last week.

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