An open letter: safeguarding the most vulnerable
16 February 2018
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling dismayed as news reports have unfolded over the last week.
The accounts of individuals who have betrayed the trust of the people they seek to serve in Haiti and elsewhere reveal behaviour that is inexcusable. Their actions have undermined the life-saving work carried out by Oxfam and all aid and humanitarian organisations, including our own.
You may have also heard Christian Aid’s name mentioned in news reports. Last week, The Sunday Times asked our media team to inform them of any reported sexual misconduct amongst Christian Aid staff in the past year. We told them that two staff members, nationals overseas, had been found in breach of our strict Code of Conduct. Neither individual had acted criminally, nor had their misconduct been directed towards anyone who is supported by Christian Aid. In both cases we took swift action, involving dismissal in one instance, and a full report to the Charity Commission.
Please be reassured we take safeguarding incredibly seriously. We recognise our duty to protect and safeguard vulnerable communities. We believe that any abuse of power, including sexual violence or harassment, is totally unacceptable. As a sector, we need to be willing to recognise that this is an issue that affects us all. We will continue to work with staff and our local partners to root out any attitudes and behaviours that support such breaches of trust.
That said, I personally take strength from the kindness of people like you, and the many good people I work with across Christian Aid. We cannot let the actions of a few individuals stop us from reaching out to those most in need, including in Haiti.
People like Vilia, who gives me hope and courage. When Hurricane Matthew hit, she sheltered 54 of her neighbours, thanks to a safe home given to her by Christian Aid. When crisis struck, people came together to stand up to the storm.
I pray that, during this challenging time, we may be moved to do the same.
With our thanks and prayers,
Chief Operating Officer