Amid sex scandal, Oxfam faces reputational, existential crises

Katrina Barker
February 14, 2018

Actress Minnie Driver has quit as an Oxfam ambassador after 20 years with the charity, becoming the first celebrity to step down following allegations that senior staff members paid for sex with locals in crisis zones.

The British Government said Sunday it is warning all charities that receive United Kingdom aid to step up efforts to tackle sexual misconduct among staff or face having their funding cut, amid further fallout from a prostitution scandal involving Oxfam workers in Haiti in 2011.

Oxfam's deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned this week and the charity was warned that it could lose £30 million of government funding unless it can prove it is adequately tackling claims men have use the organisation as a cover for sexual abuse.

The actor added the controversy would not discourage her "from working with good people in this space to support a population of human beings around the world that needs our help".

Former aid workers of Oxfam in Haiti have been accused of paying for sex while on a mission to help those affected by the 2010 quake.

The allegations centre around Roland van Hauwermeiren who was Oxfam's country director for Haiti and was previously the head of the charity's mission in Chad.

One of these workers went on to work at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), which is the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales.

Several sponsors and partners of Oxfam including retail chain Marks & Spencer and Visa have also said they are examining the situation.

The commission's deputy chief executive David Holdsworth said: "Charities and dedicated, hard-working aid workers undertake vital, lifesaving work in some of the most hard circumstances across the world".

She said it was not exclusively the actions perpetrated by Oxfam workers but the way the organisation responded.

He wrote: "I know that this apology is by no means enough but I want to offer it unreservedly to our supporters, volunteers, staff and the people of Haiti and Chad for the things that happened in our name".

"I am very clear: we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require". The charity had a fund worth more than $100 million to provide relief supplies and help rebuild Haiti's infrastructure, the Times reported.

A spokeswoman said Mordaunt would discuss how her office and the NCA could work together to implement laws on sexual exploitation and abuse, but added that the meeting did not relate specifically to criminal activity involving Oxfam staff.

Oxfam also confirmed 52 safeguarding incidents occurred within its trading retail division past year, and a former Oxfam volunteer manager told HuffPost of her fears abuse could "absolutely" take place in shops.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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