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  1. ITV Report

Red Cross workers caught up in charity sexual misconduct scandal

The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed more than 20 workers have been involved in sexual misconduct. Credit: AP

More than 20 Red Cross workers were fired or quit following allegations of sexual misconduct, the charity has confirmed.

In a statement, it said it was "deeply saddened" and admitted it should have been "more vigilant" in preventing the behaviour happening in the first place.

In a statement to staff, International Committe of the Red Cross director-general Yves Daccord said 21 members of staff were either dismissed for paying for sexual services or resigned during an internal inquiry.

A further two workers did not have their contracts renewed.

I am deeply saddened to report these numbers.

This behaviour is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are there to serve. It is against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this.

The ICRC has more than 17,000 staff members worldwide. We are concerned that incidents that should be reported have not yet been reported, or were reported but not properly handled. We are taking action to address this.

– Yves Daccord, Red Cross

It comes as almost two dozen charities including Oxfam GB signed an open letter pledging to boost safeguarding, and calling on whistleblowers to report unacceptable behaviour.

The open letter was published on the Huffington Post. Credit: HuffPost

The letter, published on the Huffington Post, comes a day after Oxfam GB was temporarily suspended in Haiti pending an investigation into the charity's handling of an investigation into former staff paying sex workers.

Other charities to sign include Save the Children UK, UNICEF UK, Muslim Aid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, and WaterAid.

"Safeguarding is something that, as a sector, we have long taken very seriously and all our organisations have systems in place to prevent all forms of abuse and misconduct. However, we can never be complacent," the letter says.

"We must do even more to protect the very people we were set up to help. "We will all increase the resources we devote to safeguarding - meeting our responsibility to protect our staff and beneficiaries."

It adds: "We are truly sorry that at times our sector has failed. We must and will do better."

The letter goes on to vow a collective review of their systems to ensure that anybody who is caught misbehaving or abusing power cannot be re-employed in the sector.

Oxfam GB has been temporarily suspended in Haiti pending an investigation. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Plan International UK - which is among the 22 charities to sign - said it had found six confirmed cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children by staff, volunteers or partner organisations, dated between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

One involved a Plan International staff member and the other five were volunteers or partner organisations.

The staff member was dismissed without a reference and contracts of volunteers or partner organisations were terminated.

Five out of the total six cases were of a criminal nature and were reported to the local authorities.

In all cases we linked victims and families with local support networks including but not limited to medical and psychosocial support.

No Plan International UK staff were involved in any of these cases.

– Plan International statement

In the blog post, the charity said in the same time period there had been nine confirmed incidents of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by staff against other adults, which resulted in seven dismissals.

The other two workers, who had used "inappropriate language", were given a warning.

"The painful but important truth to acknowledge is that sometimes things can go wrong," it said.

"When they do, we are deeply sorry."