New code of practice to help aid agencies combat sexual abuse

The NSPCC has joined forces with the Geneva-based International Council for Voluntary Agencies to devise a code of practice to help aid organisations manage allegations of sexual abuse within NGOs.

The code, Building Safer Organisations, is being piloted with aid workers in Thailand and Kenya next month. The NSPCC has built on its previous work with Unicef and the UN to develop the protocol.

It is one of two projects the NSPCC is spearheading to encourage aid agencies that work in humanitarian and natural disaster zones to better protect women and children from sexual abuse and trafficking.

The second, Setting the Standards, is a resource kit that agencies can use to devise a common approach to protecting women and children. The NSPCC has been piloting it in projects in Thailand and Cambodia.

The need for such moves was exposed by a UN investigation into children sexually exploited by aid workers in west African refugee camps in 2001.

As well as helping aid agencies combat potential abuse in their own ranks, the work also aims to help staff identify external instances of abuse or trafficking.

Both standards have been developed in collaboration with international aid organisations, including Save the Children, EveryChild, Tearfund, Consortium for Street Children and People in Aid.

EveryChild has adopted the new codes in its project that provides trauma counselling for children affected by the tsunami in Tamil Nadu, India.

A spokesman for the charity, Paul Dimmick, said: "Those who work with children must be aware that there are dangerous people out there who target vulnerable children. It would be irresponsible and naive of us not to have a child protection policy in place."

Jenny Myers, senior consultant at the NSPCC, said the charity is aiming to spread its expertise.

"By having standards and trained staff in place, we should be able to make sure that children are not more vulnerable in times of crisis."

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