Oxfam told to show 'moral leadership' or lose government funds

Oxfam told to show 'moral leadership' or lose government funds

Oxfam told to show 'moral leadership' or lose government funds

"What is so disturbing about Oxfam is that when this was reported to them, they completely failed to do the right thing", said Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told the BBC on Sunday.

Oxfam has defended its handling of a sex workers scandal after allegations that staff hired prostitutes during their work in Haiti following the devastating 2010 natural disaster.

Numbers collected by four of Britain's leading overseas aid charities, seen by The Sunday Times, revealed that 125 allegations of sex abuse were made previous year alone.

She added she was writing to all United Kingdom charities which receive United Kingdom aid asking them to spell out the steps they are taking to ensure safeguarding policies are in place and working properly.

'We will continue to address the underlying cultural issues that allowed this behaviour to happen, ' she said.

The newspaper said Roland van Hauwermeiren, who later worked in post-earthquake Haiti, was head of Oxfam's operations in Chad at the time.

It said an Oxfam report on the investigation stated there had been no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries and made no mention of any potential sexual crimes involving minors.

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

She challenged Oxfam bosses to explain why a resulting investigation saw four staff dismissed and three resign - with no public disclosure.

"The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 is an example of a wider issue on which DFID is already taking action, both at home and with the worldwide community via the United Nations".

"I have so much respect for Oxfam, they do great work, but this is a sector-wide problem".

It confirmed asking Oxfam to urgently provide fresh information.

Oxfam must show "moral leadership" or lose all its Government funding, a senior minister has warned. Her department had not been told in 2011 about the nature of the events reported to have taken place in Haiti, although some details were disclosed to the charities regulator.

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".

A DfID spokesman said the way "appalling abuse of vulnerable people" had been dealt with raised serious questions for Oxfam.

The charity should immediately hand over its entire 2011 investigation into the sexual misconduct to the appropriate prosecuting authorities and the Charity Commission, she said.

'The UN said previous year there were 120 cases involving 300 people - and that is just the tip of the iceberg'.

Mordaunt called Oxfam's behavior "utterly despicable" and said the agency was suffering from a failure of "moral leadership".

Marr said: 'That was a lie, wasn't it?'

The charity is under growing pressure after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 quake which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

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