Regulator warns criminals in Ukraine may use charities as cover

The Charity Commission has urged charities working in Ukraine to ensure that refugees who approach them for help are protected from sexual exploitation and abuse.

In a blog post, the commission said that many refugees from the war in Ukraine were “seeking the shelter and safety of charities operating along Ukraine’s borders and in the neighbouring countries”.

The commission reminded charities they would be held responsible for the conduct of any overseas partners and that it was “aware that criminal groups are operating in the region".

"Charities need to be alert to the risks that some individuals may try to use the cover of charity for the purpose of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment of those in need of assistance," the watchdog said.

Charities are urged to make sure all staff and volunteers “are suitable and legally able to act in their positions” and should check potential employees against the misconduct disclosure scheme if necessary.

The scheme was established in 2019 to try to track staff and volunteers who had faced disciplinary action at other organisations.

“Where a registered charity supports, or works closely with, overseas partners or not-for-profit organisations that are not registered with the commission, we will hold the registered charity to account over the suitability and management of that relationship, including its supervision of safeguarding risks," the regulator added.

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