Charities must introduce or improve vetting

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The former head of the United Nations' Emergency Co-ordination Centre in Pakistan has accused the Charitable Aid sector of not doing enough to ensure that workers are fit to work with vulnerable people or children.

Andrew MacLeod claims that these scandals have been happening for decades despite his warnings, and that the nature of aid work in conflict and natural disaster zones can attract those of a predatory or exploitative nature.

In a BBC interview, Lan Mercado, Oxfam’s Regional Director of Asia, said that she was aware of similar cases occurring in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal in the years before her appointment, but that the scale of misconduct was “not comparable” to the events that are said to have taken place in Haiti in 2010.

The Oxfam Director stated that the case in Haiti showed that more work needed to be done within the organisation, saying:

"The funny thing about cases like this is that we always see them as reputational risks, but the way to manage reputational risk is not to keep silent ... we need to be thinking about the reputation of the sector as a whole."

The Charity Commission is now holding an enquiry into the allegations, whilst also investigating claims that the employee at the centre of the Haiti scandal had previously worked at another aid agency before leaving due to concerns over his conduct.

These events highlight the importance of employment screening across any industry, and Oxfam have stated that they would be introducing a package of measures to strengthen its vetting and induction of staff.