Oxfam vows shake-up after Haiti sex abuse

Casey Dawson
February 12, 2018

"What is so disturbing about Oxfam is that when this was reported to them, they completely failed to do the right thing", said Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told the BBC on Sunday.

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 natural disaster that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010.

Thomson did not mention Sunday's report in The Observer, The Guardian's Sunday newspaper, that alleged that the aid group also covered up allegations that staff in Chad paid for sex with young women.

"This is now an opportunity for everyone to make sure that there are very clear, not just guidelines, but action will be taken and money will be withdrawn as well, quite frankly, if there is inappropriate behaviour", she said.

"If the moral leadership at the top of the organization isn't there, then we can't have you as a partner", she said.

The director was Roland Van Hauwermeiren, who The Times alleges used prostitutes at a villa rented for him by Oxfam.

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She challenged Oxfam bosses to explain why a resulting investigation saw four staff dismissed and three resign - with no public disclosure.

Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring apologised on Saturday, saying he was deeply ashamed of Oxfam's behaviour.

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The charity should immediately hand over its entire 2011 investigation into the sexual misconduct to the appropriate prosecuting authorities and the Charity Commission, she said.

"Through their unacceptable actions, they have undermined the vital, effective and life-changing work carried out by Oxfam, as well as by other aid and humanitarian organisations worldwide".

Penny Mordaunt condemned the behaviour of some Oxfam staff members as a "complete betrayal", as she warned the charity the "scandal" had put its relationship with the Government at risk.

DfID said Oxfam had "serious questions" to answer following the revelations.

"Our approach to this matter would have been different had the full details that have been reported been disclosed to us at the time", the commission said.

Mr Goldring's words come after the Department for International Development said late Friday that the charity had shown a "lack of judgement" in its investigations following the 2010/11 incidents. Asked if that was a lie, Mordaunt said: "Well, quite".

And there was also nothing to stop them from getting former or current staff to provide a reference "in a personal capacity", she said.

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.

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