International aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has revealed that 19 employees were sacked in the past year following investigations on harassment or sexual abuse.

The humanitarian group, based in Paris and also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it received 146 complaints or alerts last year that resulted in the firing of 19 staff members.

"Forty cases were identified as cases of abuse or harassment following an internal investigation, of which 24 were cases of harassment or sexual abuse," it said.

"Two of these were situations of sexual abuse or harassment by MSF staff against non-MSF staff (patients or members of the community). In total, out of the 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse, 19 people were dismissed."

MSF, which has 40,000 staff stationed worldwide and is one of the world's largest aid groups, said other employees were given disciplinary measures or were suspended. The charity's statement did not provide details as to where the incidents took place, who was dismissed or whether the complaints were reported to local law enforcement.

It added that the total figure of cases dealing with harassment or sex abuse could be higher than 24, as that figure does not include cases to teams on the group that may not have been reported to headquarters.

Doctors Without Borders
Nineteen employees were fired last year following investigations into sex abuse and harassment, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

"Even though reports of abuse have steadily increased, MSF is aware that abuse goes under-reported," the charity said.

The French aid group's revelations comes on the heals of a sex scandal faced by British charity Oxfam. The British organisation has been hit by allegations that staffers used prostitutes in Haiti following the deadly 2010 earthquake.

Oxfam aid chief Roland van Hauwermeiren, who was recruited to lead a team in Chad, was accused of being with prostitutes in the central African country in 2006. Oxfam bosses ignored the incident and he was then put in charge of the charity's response to Haiti's 2010 earthquake.

A year later, Van Hauwemeiren admitted to inviting prostitutes to his £1,500-a-month hilltop villa, dubbed the Eagle's Nest, that was rented by Oxfam. The aid group is now dealing with an onslaught of backlash from its sponsors, celebrities and donors following reports that its aid workers used prostitutes.

The scandal has prompted the resignation of its deputy head and has put its British government funding, placed at £32m last year, into question. According to the Daily Mail, Oxfam has denied covering up the scandal but admitted it should have been more transparent with the incident.