Haiti withdraws Oxfam GB's right to operate after sexual misconduct scandal

Government blocks charity from further aid work in country citing 'violation of laws' 

Tom Barnes
Thursday 14 June 2018 15:46
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Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring apologises over Haiti sex scandal

Haiti’s government has withdrawn Oxfam GB’s right to work in the country following the scandal surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct by its staff.

The charity became mired in controversy in February when claims emerged some of its workers had engaged in “sex parties” with prostitutes following the 2010 earthquake in the Caribbean nation.

Authorities in Haiti said the decision to now ban Oxfam GB’s operations in the country were due to a violation of laws.

Oxfam said it was disappointed but understood the decision, adding it would continue to work in Haiti through affiliate members in Italy, Spain and the Canadian province of Quebec.

“The behaviour of some former Oxfam staff working in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake was completely unacceptable. We have apologised to the government and the Haitian people for what happened,” a spokeswoman said.

The former head of Oxfam's operations in Haiti admitted having a sexual relationship with a woman he helped during the earthquake relief effort, but denied using prostitutes.

Roland van Hauwermeiren wrote an open letter in which he said he was “deeply ashamed” by aspects of his behaviour.

In February, the head of Oxfam International Winnie Byanyima described the sexual exploitation allegations as a “stain” on the charity “that will shame us for years” as she announced plans to try to stamp out abuse in the organisation.

Mark Goldring, the former chief executive of Oxfam GB, announced he would be leaving his post at the end of the year after navigating the charity through the scandal.

Mr Goldring had initially apologised for the actions of the charity’s workers, saying he had been “deeply ashamed” by the allegations.

However, in an interview with The Guardian days later, he stuck a less conciliatory tone, claiming critics had come “gunning” for the organisation.

Oxfam’s internal investigation into the scandal in 2011 found a “culture of impunity” allowed some staff to engage in inappropriate behaviour in Haiti, leaving others feeling unable to speak out.

The charity was accused of trying to cover up the allegations and also came under criticism for allowing Mr van Hauwermeiren to tender his resignation, rather than dismissing him.

Additional reporting by PA

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