Sunday, 09 May, 2021


Charities warned after Oxfam Haiti prostitute claims

Person organising aids to be sent to Haiti GETTY SHAME Charity chief executive Mark Goldring said Oxfam is'ashamed of what happened
Bennie Garza | 11 February, 2018, 06:13

Back in 2011, Oxfam, like many other global aid bodies, was engaged in providing emergency support to Haiti which the previous year was hit by the devastating natural disaster.

At present, Oxfam, which receives 300 million pounds (about 414 million USA dollars) a year from governments and in public donations, insisted there had been no cover-up, but it was facing growing political pressure to make full disclosure of its evidence from Haiti to the Charity Commission.

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

"I am very clear: we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require".

The Charity Commission took no further action but says it would have acted differently had it known all the facts. She condemned the "horrific behaviour" of some Oxfam staff and said it was "utterly despicable" that allegations of abuse persisted in the aid sector.

Former International Development secretary Priti Patel has called for "prosecutions".

"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 said van Hauwermeiren "took full responsibility for events that took place under his management" and was permitted to resign if he fully cooperated with their investigation.

"Oxfam had no formal obligation to anybody anything, this wasn't a public story, this was an internal investigation", Mr Goldring said.

He admitted Oxfam did not give full details of the scandal to the commission in 2011, but insisted it "did anything but cover it up".

"I am extremely committed to wiping out that kind of behaviour from Oxfam and rebuild that relationship of trust with the public".

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

The French charity told AFP it made pre-employment checks with Oxfam but that the UK-based organisation failed to pass on details of his transgressions.

In a statement, Oxfam denied providing positive references for those implicated, and said they were likely provided on an individual capacity.

It added that the vast number of aid operations working around the globe meant it was "not possible.to ensure that those found guilty of sexual misconduct were not re-employed in the sector".

The charity said it publicly announced an investigation into the allegations when they surfaced and kept the industry regulator informed.

Four members of staff were dismissed and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the 2011 investigation, Oxfam said.

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