Landmine charity reveals 11 safeguarding incidents in past decade

It had been alleged that the Mines Advisory Group, which was closely associated with Princess Diana before her death, ignored claims that staff paid for sex workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

MAG: under media scrutiny
MAG: under media scrutiny

A landmine charity that was supported by Princess Diana has revealed that it has investigated 11 safeguarding incidents in the past decade and pledged to conduct an independent review.

The Mines Advisory Group announced the information after allegations emerged that it had ignored claims that staff paid for sex workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Across MAG’s worldwide operations over the past 10 years we have investigated 11 safeguarding issues," the charity said in a statement.

"Three incidents resulted in dismissal, one resulted in a resignation, three led to written warnings being issued to employees. Two are still under investigation and two were found to be unsubstantiated.

"These have been reported to the Charity Commission and to the Department for International Development.

"We massively regret that these things have happened within our organisation.

"We will be conducting a comprehensive independent review of safeguarding incidents and culture within our organisation."

MAG received £3.1m of its £46.9m income in 2017 from DfID. The charity, which Princess Diana backed before her death in 1997 and is now supported by Prince Harry, employs about 3,000 staff globally.

An anonymous whistleblower told The Sunday Times he had informed the charity that staff were paying women for sex and was surprised more wasn't done to stop it.

In its statement, MAG said it was "appalled" by any incidents involving sexual abuse in the international humanitarian sector.

It added: "There's a huge amount that needs to be done both within our organisation and across the sector to eradicate unacceptable behaviour. We must do better."

A DfID spokeswoman said it had awarded MAG £2.75m between 2011 and 2013 for a mine action programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a programme that is now closed.

She added that the department no longer funded the charity in the DRC, but MAG had received £421,775 since January 2016 for weapons management from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's conflict, stability and security fund.

The spokeswoman said MAG had shared its safeguarding record with DfID. "The alleged use of sex workers was not registered at the time, nor can we or MAG find any record of the allegations being brought to DfID’s attention," she said.

"On behalf of DfID, MAG delivers life-saving surveys and clearance of mine-contaminated land, as well as mine-risk education to help communities live safely in Cambodia, Burma, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. This programme provided £3m to MAG in 2017/18."

A MAG spokesman said it would not comment beyond the statement on its website.

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