Oxfam et al: Statements by NRC and WorldVision

Statement from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Deputy Secretary General, Geir Olav Lisle
Oslo, 15 February 2018
“The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has today suspended a member of staff pending a review of the case. This follows new information emerging about the termination of his earlier employment by Oxfam in 2011 in Haiti.

NRC staff were first alerted about the staff member’s dismissal from Oxfam in December 2016. Based on the information we had at that time about the reasons for his dismissal, because standard procedures had been followed in the recruitment process and there were no known misconduct concerns in his time with NRC, it was decided not to pursue the case further. In hindsight and based on new information about the case, we realise that this response was inadequate and that we should have explored the matter further. Consequently we are conducting a review of the recruitment process and safeguarding in this case. In addition we are also currently carefully reviewing our systems and procedures in order to identify areas that may need to be strengthened. Immediate measures are: Firstly, making it compulsory to directly ask candidates if they have ever been investigated or subject to disciplinary measures by previous employers. We will also document the answer to this question. Secondly, reinforcing due diligence in the recruitment process by improving analysis of CVs and expanding reference checks.

It is important to remember that around the world, dedicated and professional aid workers are delivering live-saving and crucial assistance to millions of people in need. NRC will continue to work to improve our prevention and response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. We are dedicated to ensure the safety of both the people we are here to serve and our staff.”

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Statement on inaccurate Haiti reports – World Vision
Saturday, February 17th 2018
The earthquake in Haiti was a tragedy for the hundreds of thousands of children and their families who lost everything. The nation was already the poorest and most fragile in the hemisphere. It was challenging time for aid workers who witnessed their loss and suffering, and were involved in trying to help them.

Thanks to the generosity of supporters and partners around the world, World Vision provided food to at least two million people, emergency shelters to more than 40,000 households, and potable water for more than 90,000 people. We set up more than 30 Child-friendly Spaces, provided cholera prevention and treatment for more than 300,000 people and operated 12 mobile and static health care clinics.

While we know we did not get everything right, the Mail on Sunday story in the UK and Ireland misrepresents our actions and omits key findings from our investigations, which we described publically, and which were shared with authorities, donors, and the Mail’s journalist, several years ago.

In our cash-for-work programme in 2010-11, several evaluations conducted by World Vision and our partners highlighted a number of issues in government-run camps; of nepotism, sexual exploitation and inaccurate record-keeping.

World Vision’s extensive investigations into these issues revealed that those involved in sexual exploitation were not World Vision staff. They were community volunteers and cash-for-work beneficiaries themselves.

Our commitment to strengthening and improving systems saw us report these issues back to authorities, and work with them to put training and follow-up procedures in place to cut down on these practices. This information has been publicly available in our published Accountability Reports from 2011, 2012 and 2014. We provided these reports and internal documents to the Mail on Sunday journalist, Ian Birrell as long ago as 2014.

We recognise that it is possible there may have been inappropriate behaviour by people employed by or associated with World Vision that went unreported. If that is the case, we encourage anyone who saw or experienced sexual exploitation or abuse to come forward, or to report it through our confidential Whistleblower Hotline, and we will do all we can to investigate (report online http://worldvision.ethicspoint.com or call collect +1-503-726-3990).

We are sorry to anyone who feels let down by World Vision in any failure of ours to protect or report.

World Vision believes a better world for children is possible. Like other aid agencies, there are lessons coming out of the past week that we as an organisation are committed to taking on board and integrating into discussions with our partners in delivering aid to the world’s most vulnerable children.