Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Oxfam charity 'covered up staff's use of prostitutes'

Oxfam charity 'covered up staff's use of prostitutes'

"The behavior, discovered in Haiti in 2011, of some Oxfam staff members was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high demands we expect from our staff", Oxfam wrote in a statement released on Friday.

An unnamed source quoted in the Times report claimed the aid workers invited groups of young prostitutes to a guesthouse for parties, with some of the sex workers wearing Oxfam T-shirts.

"These allegations are deeply shocking and Oxfam must now provide the Charity Commission with all the evidence they hold of events that happened in Haiti as a matter of urgency", Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, said according to the Times.

In addition to the country director, six other workers left the charity after its investigation: two resigned during an investigation into whether they had used prostitutes and four others were for fired for offenses such as "use of prostitutes on Oxfam property" to having "pornographic and illegal material" on their official computers, the Times reported.

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

The Times said one of the men allowed to resign was the charity's country director Roland van Hauwermeiren.

One of the men allowed to resign without disciplinary action was Oxfam's country director in Haiti, Roland van Hauwermeiren, who, according to the report, admitted using prostitutes at the villa rented for him by Oxfam with charitable funds.

"Allegations such as those involving Oxfam staff risk undermining public trust".

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The 2010 Haiti quake left enormous numbers of people dead and many more struggling for necessities like drinking water.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: 'In August 2011, Oxfam made a report to the Commission about an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of misconduct by staff members involved in their Haiti programme.

"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". It did, however, state the claims related to abuse of power and bullying and not fraud.

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

There were 87 cases of alleged sexual exploitation in Oxfam between 2016 and 2017.

'The investigation and its outcome were publicly announced and we kept Oxfam Trustees, the Charity Commission and the DFID informed.

Oxfam added: "Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven". Some of the media coverage is rather unpleasant, accusing the President and Oxfam of "covering-up' sexual misconduct".

Oxfam said it has now set up a whistleblowing hotline as a result of its 2011 investigation.

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