Oxfam boss 'deeply ashamed' of charity's behaviour

UK Govt to meet Oxfam Monday over Haiti prostitutes probe

UK Govt to meet Oxfam Monday over Haiti prostitutes probe

Penny Mordaunt says it is her "absolute priority" to protect the "most vulnerable" following sex claims against some Oxfam staff.

The charity has denied those claims and said it publicly announced an investigation into the allegations when they surfaced.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, who has since been embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti, was head of Oxfam in Chad at the time.

The age of consent in Haiti is 18 and prostitution is illegal.

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

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".

"Charities need to find a way to deal with it - so that people don't reappear somewhere else", they said.

"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".

It said it could not confirm whether it had any records about a Chad staff member dismissed in 2006, adding that staff in Chad lived under a strict curfew due to security concerns. Some employees had raised the issue of prostitutes with Van Hauwermeiren.

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"Our code of conduct now stipulates: "I will also not exchange money, offers of employment, employment, goods or services for sex or sexual favours".

"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.

Penny Mordaunt's warning follows claims that Oxfam covered up the use of prostitutes by aid workers in Haiti after the 2010 natural disaster.

According to figures compiled by charities on sexual harassment in Britain and overseas, Oxfam recorded 87 incidents in 2017, Save the Children recorded 31, Christian Aid 2, while the British Red Cross said there had been a "small number of cases" reported.

Responding to reports that staff who left Oxfam in Haiti later joined other aid agencies, without their knowledge of the incidents, Christian Aid: "We are committed to living out our values of respect and dignity for all, and we will investigate any claims about any individuals involved in the Haiti incident to ascertain the facts, should they relate to Christian Aid and should we receive further information".

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

"But I don't think it was in anyone's best interest to be describing the details of the behaviour in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it".

He said any references given to staff involved in the scandal had not been officially sanctioned.

He said: "We were very open with the public that we were ashamed of the behaviour of our staff". "There is not a single organisation in which there has not been sexual abuse and exploitation and Oxfam is certainly no worse than most other worldwide organisations and actually has tried in many ways to be better", he said.

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