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Accountability standards for humanitarian workers

Standards of accountability which humanitarian and development workers in Sierra Leone are required to meet were announced on Thursday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sierra Leone, UN OCHA reported.

Developed in response to recent allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of beneficiaries by humanitarian workers and UN peacekeeping forces, the standards were drawn up by a joint committee of NGOs, UN agencies, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and the Sierra Leonean government, OCHA added.

The guidelines require humanitarian and development workers to promote fundamental human rights without discrimination of any kind, treat all persons with respect, courtesy and according to the laws, and refrain from any act that could result in physical, sexual or psychological harm.

Humanitarian and development workers must never condone corruption or participate in the trafficking of children, drugs, diamonds and arms. They must never abuse their positions to withhold humanitarian assistance or solicit sexual favours, gifts and payments. They are also required to ensure confidentiality of information.

Breaches of the standards must be reported promptly.

"We have an obligation to adhere to the highest standards of integrity in all our actions, both on and off the job," Alan Doss, humanitarian coordinator in Freetown, said. "There is no place in the humanitarian and development world for anyone who preys on those whom we have pledged to serve. OCHA reiterates the UN policy of zero-tolerance for any such acts perpetrated by employees or staff affiliated with the UN."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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