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In the wake of news that some of the men involved in the Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal went on to find work elsewhere in the aid sector, humanitarian organizations are being forced to examine the human resources and safeguarding practices that allowed alleged perpetrators of sexual exploitation to move from disaster zone to disaster zone, ignored or undetected.
According to The Times newspaper, some of the men named in Oxfam’s 2011 internal report who were either sacked or allowed to resign from their posts were subsequently employed by other charities including Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps.
Oxfam staffers and humanitarian human resource consultants told Devex the incidents that took place in Haiti are rare but not isolated, cutting across the humanitarian sector due in large part to systemic weaknesses in human resource and safeguarding protocols.
Charities such as Save the Children, Christian Aid and Islamic Relief have also proposed solutions to make the system more accountable. They point to the need for more communication between headquartered HR teams and field offices; better intrasector recruiting and hiring coordination; and a reassessment of the use of short-term contracts, which can make field staff feel vulnerable in speaking out.
Another potential solution to the reference issue emerged from Save the Children UK last year, when it suggested using blockchain technology to launch a “humanitarian passport.” The passport would detail the aid worker’s previous background checks and “retain details of all previous conduct,” a Save spokesperson told Devex. The charity is already working with Interpol to “strengthen the criminal records checking system, globally,” she said.
Read the full article about sexual abuse in the development sector by Molly Anders at Devex.