Pressure on Oxfam over sex allegations

Pressure on Oxfam over sex allegations

Pressure on Oxfam over sex allegations

The French charity told AFP it made pre-employment checks with Oxfam but that the UK-based organisation "did not share with us the reasons for his resignation as head of mission in Haiti or the results of its internal inquiry".

"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.

The report explained that the misconduct related to inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and the intimidation of staff.

But a small group of male aid workers living in Delmas, near Port-au-Prince had turned the guesthouse Oxfam had rented for them into what a source told the Times the men called "the whorehouse".

"The way in which these shocking abuses of vulnerable people have been handled raises serious questions that Oxfam has to answer", said a spokeswoman for the DFID. It is nearly as shocking that the most senior employee implicated in the scandal was not only allowed to resign without censure but was subsequently hired by another charity with no warning from Oxfam about his past conduct.

The aid charity is alleged to have covered up a report raised concerns that some of the prostitutes were underage, stating: "It can not be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were underage".

In its statement Friday, Oxfam said that it had informed its trustees, the United Kingdom government's Charity Commission and worldwide development agency, as well as other major donors such as the European Union, the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies of the investigation and the outcome.

The Times of London, citing people with knowledge of the case, reported that some of the sex workers might have been under 18, an accusation that Oxfam said had not been proven.

After a devastating quake struck Haiti in 2010, Britain's largest charity Oxfam sent workers to the island to assist in disaster relief.

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

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"Moreover, we received positive references from former Oxfam staff who worked with him, among them a [former] HR person".

The three workers who resigned, including Oxfam's country director for Haiti, did so before the charity had finished investigating what happened.

The Charity Commission has confirmed it was made aware of the allegations.

"We often work with organisations in chaotic and hard circumstances", a DfID spokesman said.

'We have a zero tolerance policy for the type of activity that took place in this instance, and we expect our partners to as well. "Allegations such as those involving Oxfam staff risk undermining public trust".

"If wrongdoing, abuse, fraud, or criminal activity occur we need to know about it immediately, in full".

"We were very open with the public that we were ashamed of the behaviour of our staff".

'I think taxpayers will be appalled aid money may have been used in such an bad way'.

An Oxfam spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday: "The behaviour of some members of Oxfam staff uncovered in Haiti in 2011 was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff".

'We are now engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations.

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