Oxfam revelations lead to more accountability for charities

Pauline Gross
February 12, 2018

"The International Development Secretary is reviewing our current work with Oxfam and has requested a meeting with the senior team at the earliest opportunity", a DFID spokeswoman said.

Oxfam, one of the world's largest charities, is facing mounting criticism over its handling of sex allegations, but has denied it tried to cover up the use of prostitutes by workers who were supposed to be helping victims of a major natural disaster in Haiti in 2011. "If the moral leadership at the top of the organisation isn't there then we can not have you as a partner".

Oxfam's boss say he is "deeply ashamed" over accusations its staff used prostitutes in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 quake.

An investigation by The Times alleges the charity covered up sexual misconduct by aid workers in Haiti.

We continuously review and refresh our current policies and practices, to ensure that we take timely and corrective actions to prevent and censure such behaviour, ensuring we have confidential and robust mechanisms that enable and support our workforce, beneficiaries and stakeholders to report concerns and incidents without fear or favour, and to ensure protection and support for individuals who report or have experienced such incidents.

Mordaunt spoke Sunday - three days after a Times of London investigation accused Oxfam's then-director in Haiti, along with other workers, of running an illegal makeshift brothel after a 2010 quake devastated the country.

Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring said Saturday it receives less than 10 percent 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 (Department for International Development) is already taking action, both at home and with the international community via the United Nations".

The Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt has urged Oxfam to comply with the authorities
The Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt has urged Oxfam to comply with the authorities

"Everybody, the 25,000 staff and volunteers are compromised by this".

"I have so much respect for Oxfam, they do great work, but this is a sector-wide problem".

"They still have information they should be giving to the authorities", she told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

She added that Oxfam had done "absolutely the wrong thing" by failing to inform authorities about the full details of the allegations. Her department had not been told in 2011 about the nature of the events reported to have taken place in Haiti, although some details were disclosed to the charities regulator.

It said Oxfam's leaders had "showed a lack of judgement" in their handling of the matter and their level of openness with the government and Charity Commission. Asked if that was a lie, Mordaunt said: "Well, quite".

The charity is under growing pressure after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 quake which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

But foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said she was concerned that the scandal could lead to fewer donations to charities which would ultimately affect those in "acute distress".

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