Save the Children have made a statement on the report by the International Development Committee On The Aid Sector.
Save the Children UK warmly welcomes this rigorous and constructive report. We have to accept that, as a sector, we have failed to meet the standards that the public, parliament and the UK Government demand, and that our beneficiaries have a right to expect. When it comes to protecting vulnerable women and children there is no room for compromise or complacency – and this report sets out practical proposals for change.
We share the grave concern of MPs about the incidence of sexual exploitation and abuse. The problems have been highlighted in successive reports by Save the Children and others. The International Development Committee’s report provides a fair and balanced assessment of the evidence. Along with other charities, we have heard the wake-up call for the entire aid sector loud and clear. Measures proposed in the report could, if implemented effectively, transform the safeguarding environment – and we are committed to act.
The starting point is to set our own houses in order. Save the Children is strengthening its safeguarding systems to ensure we meet the highest possible standards of prevention, reporting and response. Governments also have a role to play. That’s why we have called for legislation to make development charities a regulated sector under UK law.
Save the Children also wants to see international action. We are engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Interpol aimed at establishing a global mechanism for conducting background checks using the data resources of national crime agencies. In this context, we particularly welcome the committee’s support for the idea of an international register of aid workers. Such a register would help to prevent abusers from working in the sector.
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK, said:
“The International Safeguarding Conference this autumn, which has been convened by the Department for International Development, represents a critical opportunity for the aid sector to get to grips with these problems and adopt practical solutions to stamp out the abuse of vulnerable children and young women.”
“We have made mistakes in our own handling of historical sexual harassment complaints from staff in the UK. Although some progress has been made in creating a more respectful working culture, there is a great deal more to do. That’s why we have commissioned an independent internal review of our organisational culture which we have committed to making public.”