UK International Development Committee Report on SEA in the aid sector

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UK International Development Committee Report on SEA in the aid sector

Keeping Children Safe (KCS) welcomes the report published today by The International Development Committee on ‘Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aid Sector’, which sets out how the delivery of aid to people and communities in crisis has been subverted by sexual predators who exploit weakened systems of governance.

According to the report, the exact scale of the problem is currently impossible to define, but practitioners suspect that those cases which have come to light are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Although the aid sector has been aware of this problem for years, the report shows it has not dealt well with allegations, complaints and cases involving sexual abuse.

KCS was established in 2001 in the context of emerging reports that children were being abused by aid and development workers in emergency camps in West Africa. Since then KCS has worked with over 5000 organisations of all types and sizes to protect children from abuse. This means ensuring that organisations prioritise the rights and dignity of victims/survivors, and develop and implement effective safeguarding measures, including pro-active reporting mechanisms, whistleblowing systems, culture changes, high-quality training for staff, regular audits, checks and certification, as well as robust systems for accountability at all levels.

‘In the 17 years since the first reports of abuse by aid workers, thousands of organisations across the world have worked hard to safeguard the people they come into contact with, but the recent allegations of appalling abuse highlighted in the IDC report show that there is so much more that needs to be done to tackle this horrific abuse of trust and power. We are particularly concerned this negatively impacts the safety of children in crisis situations’ said Blakemore.

In response to the urgent need for a step change on safeguarding measures in the aid sector, the KCS Board of Trustees has committed to establishing a new Independent Experts Committee on Safeguarding Standards, guided by its independent expertise to set and develop KCS’ International Child Safeguarding Standards, as well as oversee the certification and audit scheme. International experts on law, social work, human rights, gender, governance, support for victims/survivors and other relevant disciplines will be brought together alongside adult survivors of abuse to lead the new initiative, ensuring the rights and voices of survivors are a central priority. 

For more information about the new commitee, please contact Sarah Blakemore, KCS Chief Executive. Email: sarah.blakemore@keepingchildrensafe.org.uk