Oxfam could lose funds over claims it exploited disaster victims for sex

by Antonio Miles February 12, 2018, 1:14
Oxfam could lose funds over claims it exploited disaster victims for sex

Oxfam has faced growing criticism over the way it handled the allegations that some of its staff used prostitutes in Haiti, while they were there as part of the relief effort in the aftermath of the devastating magnitude 7.0 quake that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010.

The Charity Commission said on Saturday that it had written to Oxfam "as a matter of urgency" to request further information, saying in a statement: "Our approach to this matter would have been different had the full details that have been reported been disclosed to us at the time".

Mordaunt, speaking to the BBC, said she was meeting Oxfam representatives on Monday.

A DfID spokesman said: "We often work with organisations in chaotic and hard circumstances".

Oxfam has been accused of lying and failing in its "moral leadership" over the scandal surrounding its aid workers in Haiti.

The charity said it launched an immediate investigation in 2011 which found a "culture of impunity" among some staff but has denied trying to cover up the scandal.

Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring yesterday said it receives less than 10% of its funding from DFID and hoped to continue working with the department while rebuilding trust with the public.

"The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 is an example of a wider issue on which DFID is already taking action, both at home and with the global community via the United Nations".

"I have so much respect for Oxfam, they do great work, but this is a sector wide problem", the former staffer told the Observer.

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He added: 'Everybody - the 25,000 staff and volunteers - are compromised by this, the hundreds of thousands of people who support Oxfam every month are compromised by this, and to everybody I apologise.

The Times reported Friday that the government secretary responsible for charity regulation was calling for Oxfam to provide more information about the staffers who had paid for sex in Haiti.

The former Secretary of State said that "the reason why Oxfam has landed in this position is because they have not been fully open and transparent about what happened".

The government's review of its relationship with Oxfam comes amid fresh allegations in the paper that the charity failed to alert other aid agencies about the staff members' behaviour.

A DfID spokesman said the way "appalling abuse of vulnerable people" had been dealt with raised serious questions for Oxfam.

The call came as the British charities regulator released its own statement detailing Oxfam's previous disclosure of the events, including that it characterised the misconduct as "inappropriate sexual behaviour".

Mordaunt said Oxfam had told her department "categorically no" when it had asked if any beneficiaries of aid had been involved in or affected by the misconduct.

Marr said: "That was a lie, wasn't it?"

The government's hardening stance follows reports in The Times newspaper that young sex workers were hired by Oxfam's senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 quake which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.


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