In the beginning of this year, the Humanitarian sector received criticism due to messages about vulnerable people being sexually abused by the humanitarian emergency aid workers. According to a recent research by professor Thea Hillhorst, implementing a humanitarian ombuds can be an important tool to go against these abusing’s. She conducted this research at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We discuss the outcomes of her research and what further steps can be put in place.
People who receive emergency aid can be vulnerable and exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation, also by the aid workers. It is however difficult for these victims to call upon the responsibility of the abusers, one of the reasons being that there is no independent reporting center where they can report such crimes. It has been said for a while now that an international humanitarian ombuds can help within this matter and expand the protection of these vulnerable people.
By the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, professor Thea Hillhorst has been doing exploratory research on the potential of an international humanitarian ombuds. Together with co- researcher Asmita Naik and Andrew Cunningham she interviewed a diversity of specialized groups and aid – workers. They also assessed countless documents and websites.
Thea Hillhorst and Asmita Naik discuss the outcomes of their research and get into conversation on the matter together with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Humanitarian sector.
About the speakers
- Dorothea Hilhorst, professor of humanitarian aid and reconstruction at ISS.
- Asmita Naik, International Development and Human Rights Consultant.
- Bart Romijn, director of Partos.
- Marinus Verweij, CEO of ICCO-cooperation.
- Doris Voorbraak, deputy Representative to African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for African (UNECA).
- Reintje van Haeringen, CEO of CARE and chair of the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA).
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