The International Development Committee of MPs is calling for a "zero tolerance" approach sexual exploitation by aid workers following a "collective failure of leadership" and "self delusion" among the third sector in dealing with problem of staff abusing vulnerable people in disaster zones.
The inquiry into sexual abuse in the charitable sector was launched after revelations global charity Oxfam covered up reports that members of its aid team deployed to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake hired sex workers.
The committee heard how aid can be "subverted by sexual predators into channel through which they can magnify their power and use possession of those resources to exploit and abuse some of the most vulnerable people in the world," the report states.
"We must not turn away from the horror of it. We have a duty to confront it."
The report highlighted concerns that sexual exploitation and abuse of aid recipients by aid providers and peacekeepers was not "a new issue, the problem has a documented history stretching back nearly 20 years.
However, aid groups had shown "complacency verging on complicity" in their collective response to reports of sexual abuse that is happening across the third sector, accusing it of failing to "fully confront or address the problem"
The culture of impunity extends beyond #Oxfam and the aid sector. Sexual abuse by foreign actors has a long history in #Haiti ('peacekeeping' forces and military occupiers, businesses and NGOs). Aid should be channelled through accountable grassroots Haitian community groups.— Harriet Orkney (@harrietorkney) February 12, 2018
Despite steps being made to respond to the crisis, the international aid sector has "failed to get to grips with this issue, leaving victims at the mercy of those who seek to use power to abuse others," Stephen Twigg, MP and chair of the committee said in a statement.
"This horror must be confronted," says Stephen Twigg.
The committee said the ease in which predatory and dangerous people are able to "move around the aid sector undetected is cause for deep concern and alarm" and is calling for a "zero-tolerance culture" on sexual exploitation and abuse.
The committee of MPs want aid staff to be screened and a global register of aid workers set up "who will operate according to expected standards."
Oxfam, one of the UK's biggest and well known charities confirmed several members of staff had been dismissed or resigned following an internal investigation into sexual misconduct in Haiti. It concerned a group of male aid workers who were living in the crisis hit country following the earthquake in 2010 which killed 220,000. The charity's former director, Roland Van Hauwermeiren is accused of hiring sex workers while he was posted in Haiti.
Van Hauwermeiren was also accused of using sex workers in Liberia in 2002 and 2004 while he worked for charity, Merlin.
I'm an ex #Oxfam staffer who is sickened to learn about what happened in #Haiti; I'm sure almost all staff (past & present) feel likewise. It was utterly wrong: an abuse of power &privilege, compounding survivors' suffering. Perpetrators should’ve been fired & held to account 1/5— Maya Mailer (@MayaMailer) February 11, 2018
According to Bond, a UK network of organizations working in international development, the report "highlights the extreme power imbalance between those receiving aid and those delivering it."
Judith Brodie, interim CEO of Bond, says: "The increased public attention on safeguarding has resulted in more people coming forwards to report allegations and incidents."
"We can only deliver zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse with strong leadership and culture change in our organizations and as a sector we are committed to delivering this change.