March 22, 2018

Charities warned after Oxfam Haiti prostitute claims

11 February 2018, 04:26 | Taylor George

GETTY PROBE Government officials said Oxfam has to answer questions over its prostitutes scandal

No10 door in Downing Street an Oxfam shop's sign

Last week the Department for International Development (DfID) said the claims raised "serious questions that Oxfam must answer" as it announced a review of its relationship with the charity.

The International Development Secretary has threatened to pull government aid from overseas charities in the wake of the Oxfam sex scandal.

Individuals closely implicated in the scandal went on to take leadership roles in other charities, which were not informed of the reasons they left Oxfam and even given glowing references, the investigation added.

The staff had been in as part of the relief effort following the devastating magnitude 7.0 quake that killed more than 200,000 people there in 2010.

Oxfam will have funding withdrawn if it fails to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues, the International Development Secretary warned today. Oxfam received almost £32m from the government in the last financial year.

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

"We're talking about a historic case, but it is in some respects still live. They still have information they should be giving to the authorities", she told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

The charity said allegations that under-age girls may have been involved were not proven.

"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".

It said Oxfam's leaders had "showed a lack of judgment" in their handling of the matter and their level of openness with the government and commission.

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When it happened, she said, new whistle-blowing procedures, safeguarding practises and training were put in place.

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

"Our primary aim was always to root out and take action against those involved and we publicly announced, including to media, both the investigation and the action we took as a result".

"If they do not hand over all the information that they have from their investigation. then I can not work with them any more as an aid delivery partner - and any other organisation in those circumstances", she told the BBC.

The chief executive said: "With hindsight, I would much prefer that we had talked about sexual misconduct".

Staff who worked for the charity in Chad alleged in the Observer that women believed to be prostitutes were repeatedly invited to the Oxfam accommodation there as well.

The move comes after the charity denied claims it had covered up the use of prostitutes by senior aid workers in Haiti in 2011.

The Sunday Times reported that there had been more than 120 cases of sexual harassment or abuse recorded at some of Britain's leading charities in the past year alone, with the highest number at Oxfam, who recorded 87 incidents last year.

Oxfam - which employs around 5,000 staff and has 23,000 more volunteers - recorded 87 incidents a year ago, referring 53 to the police or authorities and dismissing 20 staff or volunteers, according to the paper.

A confidential report by the charity which is the UK's fifth biggest found that some staff in the besieged Caribbean nation acted in a "culture of impunity".

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