In an updated statement to the below, Ann Koontz, said: “Our investigation, conducted by an outside law firm, found that Relief International (RI) made improper payments that potentially violated U.S. laws and RI’s core principles. Action has been taken to address the issue in question, which cannot be discussed in detail due to security risks. RI has disclosed details to relevant law enforcement and regulatory bodies and will continue to cooperate as necessary. RI has also spent several months rigorously reviewing and improving all activities, practices and policies at the organization. In doing so we have built on our existing standards of compliance across a range of policies, added key additional procedures and improved a wide range of measures to ensure this situation cannot happen again. We now have in place a long-term plan to continue improving our operating practices in the difficult and fragile settings we work in around the world. In order to give further assurance to our stakeholders we have retained an independent monitor to help ensure we meet our commitments.
RI’s Board and leadership are extremely thankful for the continued trust of our donors and supporters during this difficult time. Our core principles are the bedrock of operating safely in extremely difficult environments, and our promise to all those who support and work for RI is to uphold these principles with transparency, robust accountability, and the greatest of respect.
These past months have been humbling for Relief International and provided us with an opportunity to improve. I have been heartened by the hard work our global teams are putting in to make RI stronger while continuing to deliver high-quality programs in partnership with our communities.”
FEBRUARY 2, 2021
At the end of 2020, Relief International (RI) uncovered actions where it may have violated one of its core policies related to negotiating humanitarian access with an armed group in a conflict zone. The organization took swift action to remove the staff leadership involved in the potential violation from decision-making, and appointed new leadership pending investigation. RI hired independent law firms to investigate the matter and help ensure the organization has measures in place to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.
Ann Koontz, interim chief executive of Relief International, said: “During regular reviews at the end of 2020, Relief International uncovered past actions that may violate some of its most important core principles and policies. We started an investigation with outside counsel, self-disclosed to governments and donors, and continue to work to maintain transparency with impacted parties. We are co-operating fully with any government inquiries. While we do not have all the facts yet, Relief International will do whatever is necessary to right any wrongs. RI is fully committed to its duty of care to team members, adherence to humanitarian principles and compliance.”
At this difficult time, RI is redoubling its commitment to serve those who need its programs the most, particularly people facing the nexus of conflict and COVID-19. RI’s new management is also reinforcing the organization’s commitment to the safety of its team members and the communities they serve, and to ensuring that RI always adheres to core humanitarian principles and the laws that govern its operations. RI’s Board and staff leadership remains deeply grateful for the principled work of its nearly 7,300 team members that provide aid in some of the most challenging environments across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.