February 24, 2018 / 5:16 PM / 21 days ago

Red Cross says 23 staff left over sexual misconduct since 2015

ZURICH (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said 23 staff members had left since 2015 over sexual misconduct, making it the latest humanitarian organisation to be affected by abuse allegations shaking the aid sector.

A flag is pictured on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files

“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,” ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement published on Friday.

“I am deeply saddened to report these numbers,” Daccord said in the statement, adding the ICRC was taking action to make sure all incidents would be reported and handled properly.

The ICRC, which has more than 17,000 staff worldwide, bans its staff from paying for sexual services even in countries where prostitution is legal, it said.

The aid sector has been shaken by a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct. Earlier this week, British charity Oxfam’s country director in Haiti admitted to using prostitutes at his residence during a relief mission.

The United Nations’ peacekeeping missions, agencies, funds and programmes as well as implementing partners have also been embroiled in sexual exploitation and abuse allegations, with the deputy head of the U.N. agency for HIV/AIDS becoming the latest official to leave.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, Editing by William Maclean

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