Oxfam GB suspended in Haiti in wake of exploitation allegations


Oxfam Great Britain has been temporarily suspended in Haiti pending an investigation into how the charity handled the case of former staff paying for sex.

The aid group said senior members of staff met officials from the Haiti government on Thursday and pledged their commitment to cooperating with the probe.

The two-month suspension comes after charity chiefs revealed Oxfam has received 26 allegations of misconduct since the Haiti sex scandal erupted two weeks ago.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB's chief executive, said 16 of the claims stemmed from abroad, while 10 came from the UK.

Giving evidence to the Commons International Development Committee earlier this week, Mr Goldring said around 7,000 people have cancelled regular donations to Oxfam over the past 10 days, adding that corporate sponsors appeared to be "reserving judgment".

Mr Goldring publicly apologised for the actions of charity staff who sexually exploited female victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Oxfam sex allegations
Mark Goldring arriving at Portcullis House to appear before the Commons Development Committee (Yui Mok/PA)

The parliamentary hearing and suspension comes in the wake of the news of resignations and dismissals of Oxfam staff in Haiti following allegations of "sex parties" involving prostitutes.

On Thursday, Oxfam GB said: "The government of Haiti announced today that it will suspend Oxfam Great Britain's operation in the country for two months, while it investigates how Oxfam GB handled the case of former staff having paid for sex during the agency's humanitarian response in 2011.

"Oxfam International Regional Director Simon Ticehurst and Oxfam Intermon Executive Affiliate Unit head Margalida Massot met government officials today and committed to cooperate with their investigation.

"Oxfam has apologised to the Haitian government and people for abuses by former staff that occurred in 2011.

"Oxfam is committed to putting in place a number of wide-sweeping initiatives to improve its global safeguarding policies and practices, including the establishment of an independent Commission and putting more staff and resources into its safeguarding teams."

Oxfam will continue working on construction and development projects in Haiti, helping people through other affiliate members, but anticipates that Oxfam GB's temporary suspension will have a significant impact on its work.

The charity helps 750,000 people in Haiti.

Oxfam's annual programme budget is 13 million euros, of which Oxfam GB contributes 3.2 million euros.