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ACTION AGAINST HUNGER REITERATES THAT THEY FIRMLY CONDEMN ANY ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL CONDUCT INVOLVING HUMANITARIAN AID WORKERS. FOR THIS REASON, THE ASSOCIATION REAFFIRMS ITS DETERMINATION TO FIGHT AGAINST ANY SITUATION OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE, EXPLOITATION, OR HARASSMENT THAT OCCURS IN THE HUMANITARIAN SECTOR THROUGH TIGHTENING UP ITS PROCEDURES FOR PREVENTING AND HANDLING THE SAME.
Action Against Hunger has decided to implement an Action Plan that focuses on three priorities: awareness and training of employees, improve the escalation process for reporting incidents and handling cases (beneficiaries, employees), as well being more exigent in that required from third-parties of the organization (partners, suppliers). This plan is an extension of the long-term commitment Action Against Hunger has shown for many years now. It underpins internal progression, constant improvements in good practices, and recognized international standards in this matter.
This Action Plan aims to tighten up existing procedures for preventing, detecting, reporting and managing abuse that are already in place and that apply to all employees, leaders, administrators, or anybody acting on behalf of Action Against Hunger.
In the case of an incident, there is a whistle blowing system, using emails setup for this purpose that facilitate reporting the events. Moreover, these notifications are handled with the greatest of care and diligence by a Unit dedicated to this purpose to assure, on the one hand, the confidentiality and security of possible victims and their confidents, and on the other, assure that the analysis and investigation process finds out the truth about the matter. After the investigation, if the case is verified, disciplinary measures are taken, ranging from a warning to the termination of employment or dismissal of the indicted person(s).
Between 2012 and 2017, Action Against Hunger has handled 19 verified cases of abuse or sexual and/or unethical violence (harassment, violence and abuse of power of a sexual nature) out of 8,000 collaborators in more than 47 countries over the world. In all cases disciplinary action was taken against them or their contract terminated. Action Against Hunger sincerely regrets that these incidents have occurred and wish to express their profound solidarity towards the victims.
From 10th to 16th March 2018, ACF has commissioned an independent investigation in Bangladesh to assess ACF staff compliance with our code of conduct, rules, standards and obligations related to PSEA, for the period between August 2012 and August 2014.
This investigation confirms that all employees were aware of the ethical obligations expected of them by the organization and that disciplinary procedures were operational in case of violation of these commitments. The findings further confirm that the grievance policy and reporting system were in place during the period and allowed any collaborator to report any breaches of internal rules and codes of conduct.
Finally, it shows that 3 complaints have been reported during this period, but none of which was related to sexual exploitation and abuse. It also appears that none of the 3 reports involved the country director during the period under investigation.
The fight against all types of sexual violence, exploitation, and harassment is a priority for Action Against Hunger who shall continue working relentlessly and firmly towards fighting any deviation from the norm or permutation. Individual acts, deplorable as they may seem, are not a reason for placing the blame on all humanitarian aid workers or a particular organisation as a whole. Indeed, it is the duty of all stakeholders in the humanitarian sector to do everything they can to pre-empt and prevent any type of unacceptable behaviour amongst its humanitarian aid workers who are committed to improving and saving the life of the most vulnerable. It is through this spectrum of related aspirations and exigencies that we are able to improve our mission.