Response to allegations raised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation

We are shocked by the Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation into sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo. World Vision has worked tirelessly to address Ebola and the wider humanitarian crisis in the region for several years and any misuse of power is reprehensible and against our mission and core values. We stand with survivors of exploitation and abuse, and are horrified by reports of widespread coercion of women to exchange sex for work.  

When we first heard about these allegations, from the journalists involved in the article, we immediately launched a globally led investigation which is still ongoing. Sexual exploitation or abuse is unacceptable in any World Vision operation, and we will act on all the investigation’s findings.  

Despite the availability of various reporting mechanisms, we are extremely worried to hear that women say they are not in a position to report experiences of abuse and exploitation. This is something we will reassess in our own programmes in order to modify and make certain that our current systems are providing an environment where women feel safe to report any incidents.  

As a Christian humanitarian organisation working in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected places in the world, our number one priority is the safety and well-being of children and vulnerable adults in our programming. We do not tolerate sexual exploitation, abuse or violence, whether committed by our staff, volunteers or contractors. We make this clear through policies that staff and partners sign when joining or contracting to work with the organisation. This is reinforced through introductory training, refresher courses, and in a recent global training for all staff to eliminate workplace harassment. These measures are explained on our website

World Vision is committed to addressing entrenched cultural and power inequalities that give rise to sexual abuse. Through training, policy and culture change, coupled with disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment, and referral to criminal authorities when appropriate, we seek to create an environment where those we serve and those who work for us feel safe and empowered to speak up for themselves and others. 

World Vision reports the global number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse made against staff, volunteers or partners in our annual Accountability Report, published on our website, where we also talk about the steps we take to ensure lessons are learned and put into practice. 

ENDS

For further information or to organise and interview please contact

Sharon Marshall |  Director of Public Engagement | sharon_marshall@wvi.org | 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.  For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision

World Vision has been working in the DRC since 1984. We strengthen systems for child protection at the local level, and we are increasingly partnering with other agencies, especially faith-based ones, with a broad reach across 13 of the DRC's 26 provinces. We have been working at local, national and international levels to mobilise stakeholders to tackle the root causes of child abuse, labour and trafficking and sexual exploitation. Challenges to the work include: insecurity, under-funding, community mistrust, scale of affected region, pre-existing needs and gaps in service provision.