UNICEF number two faced complaints at Save The Children

UNITED NATIONS – The UN children's agency said Wednesday, February 21, it was unaware that its deputy director faced complaints of inappropriate behavior toward female staff before hiring him two years ago.

Justin Forsyth became UNICEF's deputy executive director in 2016 after leaving his post as chief executive officer for the British charity 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 was not aware of the complaints of inappropriate comments against Mr Forsyth at the time of his recruitment and welcomes his decision to apologize for his past mistakes," UNICEF spokeswoman Najwa Mekki said.

"We continue to work with him and Save the Children to get a better understanding of the facts," she said.

Mekki did not specify whether the UN agency was considering a dismissal.

"Mr Forsyth is a passionate and effective advocate for children," she added.

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 following the devastating 2010 earthquake. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this month announced a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment with new stepped-up measures to address misconduct by staff at the world body.

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