UK Govt warns charities over sex misconduct as Oxfam scandal widens

Randolph Lopez
February 14, 2018

A spokeswoman for the Charities Commission 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".

Scandal-hit British charity Oxfam was reeling on February 13 after fresh claims of sexual assault and cover-up in South Sudan, as Haiti's president condemned the behavior of some of its staff in his country as "undignified and dishonest".

The British actress said she had supported Oxfam for 20 years, adding: "I certainly will not let the abhorrent mistakes of a troubling organisation stop me or anyone else from working with good people in this space to support a population of human beings around the world that needs our help".

Separately, the chairman of Oxfam's worldwide umbrella group, Juan Alberto Fuentes, was arrested on Tuesday in his home country Guatemala as part of a corruption investigation unrelated to the charity's work. Three other staff members, including the country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, resigned before the end of a 2011 investigation into the Haiti incidents.

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, said: "I deeply respect Penny's decision to accept personal responsibility".

Oxfam's deputy chief executive resigned yesterday, saying she took "full responsibility" for failing to act immediately in the sexual misconduct scandal involving the charity's workers in Haiti following the 2010 quake.

Evans, who headed a "safeguarding" section responsible for protecting staff and the people Oxfam works with, spoke of frustration that her calls for more support for her team were not taken seriously enough.

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"DFID (the Department for International Development) have taken action in this area to try and further strengthen systems to enforce a zero tolerance approach".

Why van Hauwermeiren was allowed to continue working with vulnerable people for major global charities has been a subject of questions asked of Oxfam, which faces the loss of funding it receives from the British government. The Scottish Government became aware of these reports over the weekend, following which the worldwide development minister, Dr Alasdair Allan, spoke with Oxfam Scotland to make clear that any kind of sexual abuse or misconduct is completely unacceptable.

She is expected to add: "Unless you safeguard everyone your organisation comes into contact with, including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers - we will not fund you".

Corporate sponsors like Visa and M&S said they were "monitoring" the situation, according to the Telegraph.

Repeated revelations about the way sexual misconduct was handled prompted one of its ambassadors, actress Minnie Driver, to cut ties with the organization.

She told IRIN: 'He just goes around the system... from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti to Bangladesh.

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