The deputy chief executive officer of one of Britain’s largest charities, has resigned as the fallout continued from the allegations that some of its workers had engaged in paid sex while on a mission to help people affected by the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
“Concerns were raised about the behaviour of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon,” Penny Lawrence said as she accepted full responsibility.
Oxfam“It is now clear that these allegations – involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behaviour of both the country director and members of his team in Chad – were raised before he moved to Haiti.”
Last Friday, Oxfam described as “totally unacceptable” the behaviour of the workers noting that such allegations risked undermining public trust in charities.
“The public expects charities to be safe and trusted environments that safeguard those who come into contact with them,” it said, noting that the “behaviour of some members of Oxfam staff uncovered in Haiti in 2011 was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff”.
Oxfam said that “as soon as we became aware of the allegations we immediately launched an internal investigation”.
The earthquake in Haiti killed more than 200,000 people and left millions homeless in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country and the allegations against the Oxfam workers were published in The Times newspaper.
Oxfam said however that “allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven” but acknowledged that four staff members of staff were dismissed as a result of the investigation and three others had tendered their resignation before the probe had ended.
The European Commission has said it expects full clarity and maximum transparency from Oxfam, warning it is ready to “cease funding any partner not living up to high ethical standards”.
The charity’s programme in Haiti received Euro1.7 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) in 2011 from the EU and Britain’s International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said Oxfam had apologised for its “appalling” behaviour and that the government had not been told at the time the allegations involved sexual misconduct or beneficiaries.