British boxer Amir Khan has issued a scathing statement criticising Penny Appeal after allegations of child sexual abuse in one the charity’s orphanages in Gambia.
The Gambian government closed down a Penny Appeal orphanage in Yarambamba on August 12 after an investigation found cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Since then the former world boxing champion, who had previously collaborated with Penny Appeal, issued the following statement on social media:
“I’m horrified to hear about the allegations against Penny Appeal. I thought these guys had cleaned up their act? Didn’t they just have an investigation by the Charity Commission?!?
“This time it’s allegations of child abuse and for their sake, for the sake of the children, and for the sake of the charity sector, I hope to God it isn’t true…
“I have previously partnered with Penny Appeal many years ago and we did some good work out there. But I severed ties back in 2018. I had my own questions over their internal processes that never got answered. I ended up concluding the operation is deficient.
“Now I’m hearing about these horror stories in Gambia at a Penny Appeal orphanage and can see things have really gone downhill since then.
“When there’s allegations of child abuse and nasty stuff like that, there’s only one solution – shut it down immediately, investigate allegations and if proven to be true, bring the culprits to justice.
“What’s shocking is that the folk at Penny Appeal pull heart strings to raise millions of pounds from the goodwill of the British people. Sadly it seems, they have little regard to protect those that donate that money or indeed the beneficiaries they seek to serve. Where are their safeguarding policies? How have they failed so badly? Shouldn’t the leadership be held accountable?
“I think there should be a full-on investigation. I have seen the media excerpts where my own picture has been used as part of the report. I want to make it clear that whilst I visited the inauguration of a Penny Appeal orphanage, the Amir Khan Foundation had no management involvement whatsoever. In fact, I am so disgusted by what I’ve heard I’ve committed resources through the Foundation to undertake our own independent investigations to ensure the welfare needs of the children are being met.
“I read somewhere that until someone is prepared to lay out the systemic problem, we’ll simply go through cycles of finding corruption, finding a scapegoat, eliminating the scapegoat, and relaxing until we find the next scandal.
“It’s a bit like salt covering the flavour of rotten meat. Enough is enough.”
Penny Appeal UK issued the following statement on their website on August 14:
“On 13th August 2020 Penny Appeal became aware of an alleged safeguarding issue in Gambia at a local community based organisation supported by our partner organisation, Penny Appeal Gambia.
“As an organisation, protecting children and young people from harm is of the highest possible level of importance.
“We recognise and accept our responsibility to ensure our partners provide an environment which promotes the safety of our beneficiaries, especially young people, at all times.
“We are committed to demonstrating the highest standards of behaviour and humanitarian practice and thus have commissioned an immediate independent investigation into all related matters and are engaging the relevant authorities.
“Issues pertaining to safeguarding are treated with the utmost level of seriousness. Further information will be available on conclusion of the investigatory process.”
A recent news report by Eye Africa TV also claimed that in 2018 the founder of Penny Appeal, Adeem Younis, and Amir Khan were illegally operating an orphan village complex in The Gambia.