Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has issued an update to the House of Parliament on work undertaken by DFID in response to the safeguarding issues identified following the Oxfam in Haiti case.
In her written response, she updates the House on three key areas where work has been undertaken: the statements of assurance from UK charities and follow up cases, the follow up to the Safeguarding Summit, and work to drive up standards in the UN and multilateral organisations.
According to Mordaunt, all charities asked have now given their statements of assurance, with 26 charities funded by DFID making Serious Incident Reports to the Charity Commission, concerning some 80 incidents. An increased level of reporting of safeguarding concerns into DFID’s ‘Reporting Concerns’ hotline and inbox had also been seen.
In addition, DFID has requested assurances from its top 30 suppliers, 43 multilateral organisations and other partners but that assurances were only a first step. A high-level summary of the returns from UK charities and a list of organisations DFID have written has also been published on gov.uk.
Following the Safeguarding Summit, Mordaunt said four working groups, including civil society and independent experts, had been established, which will meet this week to refine and test ideas further and then report back on concrete actions in time for an international Safeguarding Conference to be hosted by the UK this autumn.
New, enhanced and specific safeguarding Due Diligence standards for all organisations that DFID works with are also being piloted from this week before being rolled out, with no new funds to be approved to organisations unless they pass these new standards.
Mordaunt also lists the initiatives agreed upon by major UK charities, the Charity Commission and DFID to improve safeguarding standards, which have been declared in a joint statement.
Among other measures, Mordaunt states that she has written jointly with the Foreign Secretary and with the support of other donor countries to the UN Secretary-General, and recently hosted a roundtable and held meetings with senior UN partners, calling for a step change across all constituent parts of the UN. A donor group has also been established, she says, ‘to capitalise on our collective leverage to deliver changes across the international aid sector at the Safeguarding Conference.’
Her statement finishes:
“I am determined that the UK will continue to lead this agenda to drive up safeguarding standards across the sector and keep people safe from harm.”
Picture: Penny Mordaunt MP, Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, 25 November 2017. By Russell Watkins/Department for International Development
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