Oxfam ambassador explains why he'll continue to work with charity after scandal

Ebony Scott
February 18, 2018

"It breaks my heart", said the executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, in a February 11 television interview with Reuters.

The scandal has led Britain's charity regulator to open an investigation into Oxfam and has caused three celebrity ambassadors to the aid group - South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, British actress Minnie Driver and Senegalese musician Baaba Maal - to resign.

Oxfam today announced a comprehensive plan of action to strengthen safeguarding systems across the organisation and stamp out abuse, including asking leading women's rights experts to lead an urgent independent review of its culture and practices.

Van Hauwermeiren was moved to Haiti in the wake of the 2010 natural disaster. They still believe in what Oxfam does despite the actions of a few individuals who have misbehaved. I t has also pledged to triple its annual safeguarding funding to just over $1 million.

"This review marks the beginning of change for Oxfam as an worldwide organisation - Oxfam Ireland is 100% committed to playing our part and to working with others in government and across the sector to implement urgent reforms that enable us to do more and do better for the world's poorest". She said she raised her concerns once and it cost her job.

She said another involved an assault on a teenage volunteer by a staff member in a charity shop in Britain.

In an interview with British daily the Guardian, Mark Goldring again apologised over allegations of sexual abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti, which broke last week and have shaken the whole aid sector.

THE recent revelations about Oxfam personnel in Haiti and Chad using our hard-earned cash to obtain sexual favours from starving people is outrageous in the extreme.

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Penny Lawrence, the charity's deputy chief, resigned Monday night, citing the charity's failure to adequately respond to allegations of abuse.

While Mr Van Hauwermeiren has confirmed having a sexual relationship with a local woman, he denied giving her money.

For his part, van Hauwermeiren denies the prostitutes and sex parties, though he does admit to having "intimate relations" with a woman in Haiti.

Oxfam received £31.7 million in taxpayer funding in 2016/17.

Gurpreet Singh worked as a consultant in Ethiopia from October to December 2011, a decision Oxfam said was "a serious error and should never have happened".

The scandal over Oxfam and wider allegations of sexual exploitation came as the Catholic aid agency Caritas Belgium - which appears to have been van Hauwermeiren's first employer after he left the Belgian army following a secondment to conduct humanitarian work - said its review of his time with the agency had revealed no complaints of wrongdoing.

"I would like to say that I was supported and presented with facts from the department laying out the long history that United Kingdom governments, Labour and Conservative, had in tackling this global problem", she wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Other reports by GizPress

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