UNICEF Deputy Director Resigns After Complaints of Inappropriate Behavior Towards Female Staff

UNICEF deputy director Justin Forsyth has resigned following complaints of inappropriate behavior towards female staff in his previous post as head of British charity Save The Children, the U.N. children’s agency said on Thursday.

“Executive Director Henrietta Fore today accepted Justin Forsyth’s resignation from his position as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF,” a UNICEF statement said.

“We are grateful to Mr. Forsyth for his work over the past two years to advocate for the most vulnerable children and help advance UNICEF’s mission to save children’s lives. This mission is now more important than ever,” it added.

Forsyth joined UNICEF in 2016 after leaving his post as chief executive officer of Save the Children, where he faced complaints from three workers who said he had sent inappropriate texts and commented on what young female staff were wearing. UNICEF on Wednesday said it was unaware that Forsyth faced those complaints when he was recruited.

Forsyth had apologized to the three staff members for the incidents.

In the wake of the MeToo movement, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this month announced a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and vowed new stepped-up measures to address misconduct by staff at the world body.

A new helpline for U.N. staff will be set up and U.N.-wide rules put in place to ensure that claims are addressed in the same manner throughout the organization.

The complaints at Save The Children follow revelations that Oxfam was investigating 26 cases of sexual misconduct since a crisis erupted over its handling of a scandal involving prostitution in Haiti.

Three of Oxfam’s senior leaders have apologized for the charity’s handling of an internal investigation into the use of prostitutes by staff in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

SOURCE: AFP, Bryan Bedder