Oxfam GB suspended from working in Haiti amid sex scandal investigation

22 February 2018, 18:51

Haiti has suspended Oxfam Great Britain from operating in the country amid an investigation into the charity's sex scandal.

The Caribbean nation's government announced the UK arm of the charity has had its authorisation to work in Haiti revoked for at least two months over "serious failings" between 2010 and 2011.

Earlier this month, the charity was hit by allegations senior staff used prostitutes while part of an international response to Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010.

Aviol Fleurant, Haiti's minister of planning and external cooperation, said the country is investigating whether anyone from Oxfam sexually abused minors.

It comes after a meeting between Oxfam bosses and the Haitian government on Thursday.

The charity had previously said it would hand over its full unredacted internal report into the 2011 scandal to Haitian ministers.

A Haitian government statement said: "These reprehensible acts, alleged crimes, acknowledged by the perpetrators as well as the NGO, are a serious violation of the dignity of the Haitian people."

A final decision on Oxfam GB's authorisation to work in Haiti will be made at a later date.

An Oxfam spokeswoman said the charity had vowed to co-operate with Haiti's investigation and "apologised to the Haitian government and people for abuses by former staff that occurred in 2011".

She added: "Oxfam is committed to putting in place a number of wide-sweeping initiatives to improve its global safeguarding policies and practices, including the establishment of an independent commission and putting more staff and resources into its safeguarding teams."

Seven of Oxfam's workers were sacked or resigned after the charity launched the internal investigation into allegations about the behaviour of staff in Haiti.

The charity's country director in Haiti at the time of the scandal, who was among those to resign, has since branded much of what was alleged as "absolute nonsense".

Senior figures at the charity have spoken of their shame over the claims, with Oxfam GB's deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigning in the wake of the scandal.

The UK Government is also deciding whether to end Oxfam's multi-million pound yearly funding, while the charity has said it will not bid for any new Government contracts at present.

On Monday, Oxfam published their final internal investigation from 2011 into allegations of sexual misconduct and other unacceptable behaviour in Haiti.

It came after the charity denied claims it had covered up the use of prostitutes by senior aid workers at the time, while it has also come under fire for not properly disclosing misconduct of former staff or preventing them being employed by other charities.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has suggested Oxfam may have "deliberately" misled over the Haiti allegations in order to try and protect their reputation.

The charity is investigating 26 cases of misconduct reported in the wake of the Haiti scandal.

It has also seen thousands of individuals cancel their regular donations.

Oxfam's troubles have also been followed by other allegations about misconduct in the charity and international aid sector.

The United Nations (UN) announced on Thursday that 40 allegations of sexual allegations and abuse were made during the last three months of last year against UN peacekeeping missions, as well as agencies, funds and programmes, and implementing partners.

The allegations involved 54 victims, 30 women and 16 girls with the age of eight others unknown.

Meanwhile, a senior UNICEF figure quit the organisation after he admitted "some personal mistakes" towards three women in a previous role.

Justin Forsyth resigned from his position as deputy executive director following complaints about his behaviour during his time at Save The Children.

Brendan Cox, the widow of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, has also apologised for the "hurt and offence" that some of his past behaviour had caused while he worked at the same charity.