UK minister warns of funding withdrawal, as Oxfam faces further sexual misconduct allegations

Staff employed in Chad in 2006 claim prostitutes were invited to the charity premises

An Oxfam shop is seen, in London, Britain, February 11, 2018.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A British minister on Sunday warned Oxfam that it could lose government funding if it fails to hand over the information it has regarding sexual misconduct by some of its aid workers in Haiti.

The charity was hit on Friday with fresh allegations regarding senior employees paying for sex.

Former staff members in Chad believe that prostitutes were repeatedly invited to the Oxfam house and that a senior staff member had been fired for such behaviour in 2006.

The former Oxfam Haiti director, Roland van Hauwermeiren, who was fired for using prostitutes whilst directing the charity’s response efforts to the Haitian earthquake of 2010, was also head of the charity in Chad at the time.

One former employee told The Observor “They would invite the women for parties. We knew they weren’t just friends but something else.

“I have so much respect for Oxfam. They do great work, but this is a sector-wide problem”.


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The new allegations came as UK Minister for International Development (DFID), Penny Mourdaunt warned organisations that they risk losing their funding unless they cleaned their act up.

"With regard to Oxfam and any other organisation that has safeguarding issues, we expect them to cooperate fully with such authorities, and we will cease to fund any organisation that does not."

"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," she added.

Speaking early on Sunday, Ms Mourdaunt said that Oxfam had demonstrated an “absolute absence in leadership”.

“I think it’s shocking and it doesn’t matter how good the safeguarding practices are in an organisation, if that organisation does not have moral leadership to do the right thing, and where in particular they have evidence of criminal activity to pass that information to the relevant authorities including prosecuting authorities, that’s an absolute absence of leadership,” she said.

Between 2016 and 2017, Oxfam received more than £30 million (Dhs142.4 million) in funding from DFID, including for projects in South Sudan and Yemen.

The minister is due to meet with Oxfam bosses early on Monday.

Several other charities also came under scrutiny after figures revealed a prevalence of sexual harassment within their organisations. Oxfam reported 87 incidents of harassment last year, whilst Save the Children reported 31 and Christian Aid two – all of the organisations receive money from DFID.

It was revealed last night that Oxfam had failed to fully inform the UK’s regulatory body – the charity commission about the full extent of the prostitution scandal in Haiti when it unfolded in 2010.