A total of 21 Red Cross staff have been fired or resigned over alleged sexual misconduct since 2015, the charity has said, as the aid sector reels from a sex abuse scandal.
The charity also said it feared some incidents had not been reported, adding that those that were “are against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this”.
Yves Daccord, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said: “Since 2015, we’ve identified 21 staff members who were either dismissed for paying for sexual services or resigned during an internal enquiry.
“Another two staff members suspected of sexual misconduct did not have their contracts renewed. I am deeply saddened to report these numbers.”
Daccord added he was “concerned that incidents that should be reported have not yet been reported, or were reported but not properly handled”.
He did not specify where in the world the 21 staff members had been working.
The Red Cross’ code of conduct forbids staff from buying sex anywhere, even where prostitution is legal.
The Red Cross was not among 22 UK charities that signed an open letter, published first on HuffPost on Friday, vowing to “take every step to right our wrongs and eradicate abuse within our industry”.
The signatories included Mark Goldring, the under-fire head of Oxfam UK, which is accused of failing to deal with sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti.
Among the signatories was the chief executive of Plan International UK, which has also admitted six cases of “sexual abuse and exploitation of children”, one by a member of staff and five by “associates” of the charity, between July 2016 and June 2017.
Five of the cases were “of a criminal nature” and were reported to the authorities, the charity said in a statement.
“The staff member was dismissed without a reference and contracts of associates were terminated,” the statement said.
“In all cases we linked victims and families with local support networks including but not limited to medical and psychosocial support.”
There were also nine cases of sexual harassment or misconduct that resulted in seven dismissals. The other two, who were accused of inappropriate language, were given warnings.
All nine of these cases involved adults.
“No child, youth, staff member or adult should ever face abuse, harassment or exploitation,” the charity’s statement continued.
“We are truly sorry for the harm that any child or young person has suffered. We are determined to be an organisation where abuse and exploitation cannot take place.”