United Kingdom govt to meet Oxfam tomorrow over Haiti prostitutes probe

12 February, 2018, 01:08 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • United Kingdom govt to meet Oxfam tomorrow over Haiti prostitutes probe

Charities doing overseas aid work will lose funding if they fail to cooperate over safeguarding issues, warned the global development secretary.

Britain's Charity Commission must conduct a "full and urgent investigation" into Oxfam following an alleged cover-up of its staff hiring prostitutes in Haiti during a 2011 relief effort on the earthquake-hit island, the prime minister's office said Saturday.

Oxfam will examine new complaints from staff members about how the aid workers involved in 2010 were recruited and vetted. "If the moral leadership at the top of the organisation isn't there, we can not have you as a partner", she said.

The allegations echo those made against Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa in the poverty-stricken country of Haiti where he was based as country director.

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

A damning internal report into their conduct concluded: "It can not be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were under-aged".

Ahead of its meeting with Ms Mordaunt, Oxfam announced a package of measures to improve safeguarding, including improved recruitment and vetting, a new whistleblowing helpline and a recommitment to report concerns to authorities.

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.

What I'm apologising for is that nine Oxfam staff behaved in a way that was totally unacceptable and contrary to our values, and that led much more responsible staff to make decisions which are now seen by some as being marginal or inappropriate. And whilst we are not legally required to disclose information on why former Christian Aid employees have left the organisation, we always aim to provide factual information when asked.


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.

The Charity Commission said it had written to Oxfam as a matter of urgency to request further information and establish greater clarity.

Meanwhile an Oxfam spokeswoman has said the charity would not have provided a positive reference for any of those who were dismissed or resigned.

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

Ms Mordaunt replied: 'Well, quite'.

Oxfam says it investigated the claims and four people were sacked.

Oxfam has denied that they took part in any coverup thought according to reports they did not let the Haitian government what was happening which meant they were unable to take legal action against the employees involved.

Caroline Thompson, who chairs Oxfam Great Britain's board of trustees, said charities that work in "fragile and unstable environments can become targets for abusers", but that the organization is committed to fixing the problems it faces.

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