UK aid chief warns char­i­ties af­ter Ox­fam sex scan­dal

Iran Daily - - International -

The in­ter­na­tional aid sec­tor must take ac­tion to end abuses, Bri­tain’s In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Penny Mor­daunt said on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing a spate of rev­e­la­tions about mis­con­duct at Bri­tish char­ity Ox­fam.

Mor­daunt also warned Bri­tain would not part­ner with char­i­ties that do not hold staff ac­count­able for their ac­tions and are not trans­par­ent fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of a cover-up of a pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal at Ox­fam, AFP wrote.

“This week, hor­ri­fy­ing al­le­ga­tions have come to light about the ac­tions of some Ox­fam staff in Haiti in 2011,” Mor­daunt told the Agenda 2030 chil­dren’s wel­fare con­fer­ence in Stock­holm, ac­cord­ing to ex­tracts from her speech pub­lished by her min­istry.

The scan­dal led to the res­ig­na­tion of Ox­fam’s deputy head and has thrown into ques­tion gov­ern­ment fund­ing for the char­ity, which amounted to around £32 mil­lion (36 mil­lion eu­ros, $44 mil­lion) last year.

“The same mes­sage goes out to any or­ga­ni­za­tion or part­ner which re­ceives UK aid. We want pro­ce­dures to change. We want lead­ers to lead with moral au­thor­ity and we want staff to be held ac­count­able,” she said.

“Un­less you re­port ev­ery se­ri­ous in­ci­dent or al­le­ga­tion, no mat­ter how dam­ag­ing to your rep­u­ta­tion — we can­not be part­ners,” she said.

Ox­fam has been ac­cused of a lack of trans­parency over an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the use of pros­ti­tutes by staff mem­bers in Haiti which led to the dis­missal of four em­ploy­ees and three oth­ers be­ing al­lowed to re­sign.

The al­le­ga­tions re­volve around Ox­fam’s then head of mis­sion in Haiti, Bel­gian na­tional Roland van Hauw­er­meiren, whose be­hav­ior had al­ready led to com­plaints when he worked for the char­ity in Chad.

Af­ter re­sign­ing from Ox­fam, he went on to work for French char­ity Ac­tion Against Hunger in Bangladesh.

There were re­ports on Wed­nes­day that there had al­ready been com­plaints about van Hauw­er­meiren when he worked for the Bri­tish med­i­cal char­ity Mer­lin in Liberia.

Since the scan­dal was first re­ported last week, al­le­ga­tions have been re­ported about sim­i­lar cover-ups over sex­ual mis­con­duct at dif­fer­ent char­i­ties.

“Sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion is an is­sue the en­tire de­vel­op­ment sec­tor needs to con­front,” Mor­daunt said, calling for a cul­ture that “en­sures vic­tims and whistle­blow­ers can come for­ward with­out fear”.

When abuse is car­ried out “by peo­ple in po­si­tions of power, peo­ple we en­trust to help and pro­tect, it rightly sick­ens and dis­gusts. And com­pels us to take ac­tion,” she said.


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