#metoo: Sex harassment, assault at Doctors Without Borders - Netherlands

Doctors Without Borders staff preparing to enter an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia, August 2014
Doctors Without Borders staff preparing to enter an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia, August 2014Photo: CDC Globa / Wikimedia Commons

Last year aid organization Doctors Without Borders handled 24 cases of employees being involved in sexual harassment or abuse, seven of which fell under the responsibility of the Dutch division of the charity. Twenty of these aid workers were dismissed, including five that fall under the Netherlands, RTL Nieuws reports.

Doctors Without Borders has a zero tolerance policy with regards to sexual misconduct, a spokesperson for the Dutch branch said to the broadcaster. "Sexual misconduct is always unacceptable." The spokesperson added that all these cases of sexual harassment or assault involved unwanted behavior between employees, not between employees and patients. 

Worldwide the organization received a total of 146 reports about misconduct. Evidence of misconduct was found in 40 of these cases. 24 of them involved sexual misconduct. 

Doctors Without Borders takes every report of misconduct seriously, according to Nelke Manders, director of the Dutch branch. "These are horrible, unacceptable situations. We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening at Doctors Without Borders. We have rules of conduct that you must adhere to. We see to that and we train people", Manders said, according to the broadcaster. "But if something does happen, then we are careful in the follow-up. Transparency is necessary. Against employees who cross the line. And for the victims who need support."

Globally Doctors Without Borders employs over 40 thousand people. Around 10 thousand of them fall under the Dutch department, which also includes Germany, England and Canada. 

Last week aid organization Oxfam was also under fire because of sexual misconduct by staff. Staff members of the aid organization organized sex parties with possibly underage prostitutes in Haiti after a devastating earthquake on the island in 2010. This revelation resulted in the Dutch branch Oxfam Novib Nederland massively losing support from donors. As far as is known, no Dutch employees were involved in these sex parties.