Oxfam rocked by corruption, sex abuse allegations

15 February, 2018, 02:10 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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The UK-based charity has been in the headlines after reports in the Times newspaper claimed senior staff had hired sex workers in Haiti while delivering aid after the 2010 natural disaster which struck the island nation.

Oxfam's leaders are accused of trying to cover up the behaviour of some of its senior staff members deployed to Haiti after the devastating 2010 quake.

But Andrew MacLeod, former chief of operations of the UN's Emergency Coordination Centre and Red Cross aid worker, said the Oxfam scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since the allegations first came to light, Oxfam's deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned over the handling of complaints.

The report also highlighted instances of rape, verbal sexual abuse, child pornography and prostitution and trafficking of youngsters, many poor, displaced or orphaned by conflict.

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Former aid worker Amira Malik Miller said he resigned from Merlin, a British emergency relief organisation, in 2004 after an investigation revealed that senior staff had been sleeping with local sex workers.

Britain's worldwide development secretary Penny Mordaunt is due to meet with investigators from the National Crime Agency to discuss the scandal.

Meanwhile, UK government is threatening Oxfam to cut its funds, reports the Guardian.

Haiti's minister of planning and external cooperation, Aviol Fleurant, said on Wednesday he had summoned Oxfam representatives to a meeting on Thursday to discuss "serious sexual crimes".

Following an internal investigation, some staff members were dismissed and others including country director Roland van Hauwermeiren were allowed to resign.

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Oxfam received £31.7 million in taxpayer funding in 2016/17, but Ms Mordaunt indicated future support could be at risk.

Priti Patel, an aid critic despite being Mordaunt's predecessor as worldwide development minister, said the Haiti incidents were just "the tip of the iceberg" and there was a "culture of denial" in the sector.

The recent allegations concerning Haiti and Chad relate to Oxfam GB, one of the 20 affiliate organisations.

She has also called on all British charities active outside the country to provide moral leadership and transparency about their operations.

M&S, which has worked with Oxfam since 2008, said in a statement: "M&S continues to monitor the situation very closely as we seek to understand the steps that Oxfam is taking to address them and develop a robust safeguarding plan for the future". "And compels us to take action", she is expected to say.

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A spokeswoman told Sky News: "This clearly raises issues for United Kingdom charities about recruitment, vetting and references for charity personnel, particularly in the context of global aid work to ensure that people who pose a significant risk to charities, their work and reputation are not allowed to infiltrate the charity sector".

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