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Abuse scandals still rock the humanitarian aid world. Why is progress so slow?

True reform will have been achieved when aid organisations and workers approach people affected by crisis in a spirit of solidarity, rather than charity

By Tanya Wood  

An Oxfam operation in Chengerero, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: REUTERS/James Akena

For a sector that aims to do good, humanitarian relief can get a lot of bad press. 

This month, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the New Humanitarian revealed new allegations of sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over 20 women have claimed that humanitarian workers they identified as employed by the World Health Organisation and seven other agencies—including two other UN agencies—had offered them jobs in exchange for sex.  

This not long after the Times reported that Oxfam, one of the world’s largest aid agencies, was investigating claims of abuse by staff working in…

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