Oxfam apologises over sex scandal

Written By: James Douglas
Published: February 17, 2018 Last modified: February 17, 2018

Oxfam has agreed to stop bidding for UK government funding until it can show it meets the “high standards” required following the Haitian sex scandal.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the charity had “a long way to go” before regaining the trust of the public, its staff and the people it aims to help.

The charity, which had a total income of £409m last year, received £31.7m from the government in 2016, accounting for about 8% of the charity’s income. Oxfam is setting up a commission to investigate past and present allegations of exploitation by staff.

But Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring said the scale of the criticism was out of proportion to its level of culpability, adding:: “The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?” He also suggested that critics are motivated by an anti-aid agenda.

His comments are unlikely to be well-received in government circles, or amongst other charity chiefs hit by the knock-on effect of the scandal.

Oxfam apologised in a full page advertisement aimed at the people of Haiti and the charity’s supporters. It also setsout the actions the organisation plans to take, including tripling Oxfam’s safeguarding capacity and establishing a review into improving its culture.

Another charity – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – has now come under question as the president of Haiti called for an investigation into the activities of aid agencies working in his country. Jovenel Moise, asked why it had repatriated 17 of its staff members.

He said: “The Oxfam case is the visible part of the iceberg. It is not only Oxfam, there are other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in the same situation, but they hide the information internally.”