United Kingdom charities warned after Haiti sex claims

Posted February 12, 2018

Last Friday Oxfam, one of Britain's biggest charities, condemned the behaviour of some former staff in Haiti after a newspaper report said aid workers had paid for sex while on a mission to help those affected by the 2010 quake.

Figures collected by four of Britain's leading overseas aid charities and seen by The Sunday Times reveal that 125 allegations of sex abuse were made past year.

It promised to release the results of its investigation "publicly and transparently".
On Saturday, Britain's charity commission said it had written to Oxfam "as a matter of urgency to request further information regarding the events in Haiti in 2011". 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.

Late on Friday, the Department for International Development (DFID) also said it was reviewing its relationship with the UK-based charity, to which it gave almost £32 million (36 million euros/$44 million) a year ago.

Oxfam must show "moral leadership" or lose all its Government funding, a senior minister has warned.

The charity's chief executive Paul Goldring will meet Penny Mordaunt, the worldwide development secretary, on Monday after she threatened to withdraw millions of pounds of government funding.

"I am deeply ashamed about Oxfam's behaviour then", CEO Mark Goldring told ITV News.

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

"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 when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid programme".

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Its own investigation into the allegations led to four people being sacked and three others resigning.

The government is looking to collect documents on the staff members who paid for sex during that time.

The French charity told AFP it made pre-employment checks with Oxfam but that the UK-based organisation failed to pass on details of his transgressions.

"It is not sufficient to be appalled by the behaviour of our former staff - we must and will learn from it and use it as a spur to improvement", Caroline Thomson, Oxfam's chair of trustees, said in a statement.

In a statement, Oxfam denied providing positive references for those implicated, and said they were likely provided on an individual capacity.

"In the 21st century, it is utterly despicable that sexual exploitation and abuse continues to exist in the aid sector", she sad.

She said the reports were "a complete betrayal of the people Oxfam were there to help and also the people that sent them there to do that job".

Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Ms Mordaunt said she had only learned of the allegations against the charity when the Times reported them on Friday - and that she will hold urgent crunch talks with Oxfam's management tomorrow.