Oxfam staff 'paid quake survivors for sex and charity covered it up'

10 February, 2018, 06:59 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Roland van Hauwermeiren Oxfam country director for Haiti admitted using prostitutes after the disaster in Port-au-Prince

In a statement to Varsity, Murray Edwards said that they believed the cover-up allegation was "untrue" and that the Charity Commission was alerted to the incident at the time.

The Times reported that members of Oxfam, one of the UK's biggest charities, had used prostitutes in Haiti sometime in 2011.

Prostitution is illegal in the country, and paying for sex is in breach of both Oxfam's code of conduct and United Nations regulations for aid workers.

An investigation by The Times UK revealed that Oxfam, which receives £300 million ($414 million US dollars) in British government funds and charitable donations, let three staffers resign and fired four others for gross misconduct after an inquiry into the damning claims.

Senior aid workers for one of Britain's biggest charities were accused of paying survivors of the Haiti quake for sex.

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Director Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, was allowed to resign in August 2011 just a week after an internal investigation was announced.

In September 2011, Oxfam announced six staff had left due to misconduct, but this was described as "abuse of power and bullying" rather than the claims revealed in the report.

She said: "We are now engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations". The culture secretary, Matt Hancock, told The Times: "Charities must ensure that they have the highest standards of transparency and safeguarding procedures in place to protect vulnerable people and maintain the trust of the public".

"We will expect the charity to provide us with assurance that it has learnt lessons from past incidents and is taking all necessary steps to safeguard all who come into contact with it".

An investigation by the Times newspaper found the charity had sacked four people for gross misconduct and allowed three to resign after an inquiry looking into behaviour in Haiti, where Oxfam helped the global relief effort after the natural disaster in 2010.

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She said Oxfam often worked in very hard locations "where the rule of law isn't going on".

Oxfam treats any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously.

"As soon as we became aware of the allegations, we immediately launched an internal investigation", the group said. Refuting the allegations, Declercq said "an audit showed that Oxfam money was not involved". "The director of country fully assumed responsibility for events that occurred under his management and was allowed to resign on basis that he co-operated and supported investigation", spokesperson added.

"Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop the individuals falsifying references, getting others that were dismissed to act as referees and claiming it was a reference from Oxfam, or former or current Oxfam staff that worked with the individual providing a reference in a personal capacity".

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