United Kingdom govt to meet Oxfam tomorrow over Haiti prostitutes probe


Worldwide development secretary Penny Mordaunt said it was "despicable" that sexual exploitation and abuse existed in the aid sector and threatened to cut funding to charities if they fail to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues.

Oxfam, one of Britain's biggest charities, on Friday condemned the behaviour of some former staff in Haiti after a newspaper report said aid workers had paid for sex while on a mission to help those affected by the 2010 quake.

He said that it was very important to remember that "there are thousands of people working for Oxfam in some of the most hard places. and we must not forget that Oxfam is one of Britain's most brilliant charities".

"This is now an opportunity for everyone to make sure that there are very clear, not just guidelines, but action will be taken and money will be withdrawn as well, quite frankly, if there is inappropriate behaviour", she said. "If the moral leadership at the top of the organisation isn't there then we can not have you as a partner".

And the Guardian reported new accusations over the weekend: that the same man, Roland van Hauwermeiren, was also accused of hiring sex workers in Chad.

The charity said it launched an immediate investigation in 2011 which found a "culture of impunity" among some staff but has denied trying to cover up the scandal.

He said if he were in the role at the time he would have said more about the incident.

"Oxfam had no formal obligation to anybody anything, this wasn't a public story, this was an internal investigation", Mr Goldring said.

It said van Hauwermeiren resigned from Oxfam in 2011, after admitting that prostitutes had visited his villa in Haiti.

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Ms Mordaunt told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show that the failure to pass on information to relevant authorities shows an "absolute absence of leadership".

The government's review of its relationship with Oxfam comes amid fresh allegations in the paper that the charity failed to alert other aid agencies about the staff members' behaviour.

She added that sexual abuse in the charity sector as "utterly despicable", and vowed to meet the charity commission to discus what more could be done to fight it.

The Charity Commission said on Saturday that it had written to Oxfam "as a matter of urgency" to request further information. Asked if that was a lie, Mordaunt said: "Well, quite".

The charity said allegations that under-age girls may have been involved were not proven.

Ms Mordaunt replied: "Well, quite".

The former Secretary of State said that "the reason why Oxfam has landed in this position is because they have not been fully open and transparent about what happened".

One of the instances was a case of failings in adequate safeguarding, which was reported to the Charity Commission.

The charity is under growing pressure after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 natural disaster which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.