Any new Government funding for Oxfam was dramatically stopped last night by the International Development Secretary following the sex exploitation scandal.
After a week of shocking revelations, Penny Mordaunt said the charity would receive no new UK foreign aid until it could prove it met the ‘high standards’ she expected.
Miss Mordaunt said that while there were ‘hundreds of good, brave and compassionate people working for Oxfam’, they had been ‘poorly served’ by the charity’s leadership.
Any new Government funding for Oxfam was dramatically stopped last night by International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt following the sex exploitation scandal
The move is a huge blow to Oxfam, which last year received around £30million from the Government, and will pile pressure on its beleaguered chief executive Mark Goldring.
It follows a meeting this week when the charity attempted to reassure Miss Mordaunt that it had a grip on the scandal, which has led to ramifications through the entire aid sector.
Oxfam has been rocked by the worst week in its history following reports of sexual exploitation by aid workers in Haiti following the earthquake there in 2010.
On another dramatic day yesterday:
– New claims emerged from an anonymous Oxfam worker that she was twice sexually and physically assaulted by colleagues in Haiti and South Sudan.
– The head of Oxfam International conceded that she couldn’t guarantee there were no other sexual predators working for the charity.
In an attempt to address the crisis the head of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, announced an independent commission to review the charity’s culture and practices
– Haiti’s president called for investigations into other aid organisations which went to the country after the quake.
‘We are so sorry’, Oxfam tells its supporters in advert as it declares ‘we are listening’
Oxfam has told its supporters ‘we are so sorry’ and declared ‘we are listening’ as it pledges to win back the public’s trust.
The charity admitted it should have been ‘more explicit’ in revealing the allegations of sexual misconduct made against former staff and said not enough progress has been made since 2011.
The admission comes as Penny Mordaunt said the charity would receive no new UK foreign aid until it could prove it met the ‘high standards’ she expected.
In a full-page advertisement published in national newspapers including The Guardian and The Times, the charity said it would triple its safeguarding team to help protect staff.
The letter, signed by chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson and chief executive Mark Goldring, said: ‘We are so sorry. To Oxfam supporters, friends and volunteers, we are so sorry for the appalling behaviour that happened in our name.
‘More than anything, we are sorry to the people of Haiti and other places where the conduct of Oxfam staff has been reprehensible.
‘The sexual misconduct of former Oxfam employees in Haiti during 2011 and in Chad during 2006 should never have happened. We should have been more explicit in our reporting of these incidents.
‘As an organisation that supports women’s rights, these events are particularly hard to bear. We know that you put your trust in us and that these devastating reports will have damaged that trust. We want you to know that we are working hard to rebuild it.’
The charity said it would triple the number of safeguarding staff, launch an Independent Global Commission, and look after those who speak out about alleged misconduct.
The letter also stated that Oxfam is continuing to help those in need and pledged to win back the trust of the charity’s supporters.
It said: ‘Please know that Oxfam is still full of amazing, brave, committed staff and volunteers who are making remarkable life-saving, life-changing work happen in desperate situations.
‘The scandal that has hit Oxfam in the past week has been shocking, but we are determined that it must not stop the world’s poorest people getting the help they need.
‘We hope that we will be able to earn back the trust that has been lost. Once again, we are so sorry to all of you.’
Oxfam has vowed to publish the 2011 internal investigation into staff involved in sexual and other misconduct in the country. It said that the names of the men involved have already been shared with the Haitian authorities.
Following discussions with the Department for International Development, Oxfam yesterday said it would not seek further Government funding.
Miss Mordaunt said: ‘Oxfam has agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK Government funding until DFID is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect of our partners.
‘We have been very clear that we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require.’
In an attempt to address the crisis yesterday the head of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, announced an independent commission to review the charity’s culture and practices.
But she conceded that she could not guarantee that there are no more sexual predators working for the charity, although it would ‘build a new culture that doesn’t tolerate that behaviour’.
She described the allegations as a ‘stain’ on the charity ‘that will shame us for years’.
Last night a former Oxfam worker told the BBC she had been abused by colleagues in Haiti and South Sudan in 2010. Describing one assault, she told the BBC: ‘He literally just pinned me up against the wall. It was groping me, grabbing me, kissing me and I was just trying to shove him off.’
She said he ‘got mad’ when she succeeded and threw a glass at her. Later, she had to travel with him and he attacked her again and her roommate had to intervene, she said.
The same worker was also assaulted at a New Year’s Eve party in South Sudan, also in 2010. ‘I went into my room I was starting to undress and go to sleep and he just walked in, shoved me on the bed, tried to rip my clothes,’ she said.
Haiti’s president last night said the Oxfam case was only ‘the visible part of the iceberg’ and called for investigations into Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, and other aid organisations. Jovenel Moise said: ‘There are other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the same situation, but they hide the information internally.
‘For example, Doctors Without Borders had to repatriate about 17 people for misconduct which was not explained.’
Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders said it was looking into his comments.
Now boss blames ‘anti-aid agenda’ for abuse stories
Mark Goldring, GB chief executive of Oxfam, ggesting that the uproar over the sex abuse scandal was being motivated by an ‘anti-aid agenda’
Oxfam’s British boss was criticised last night after suggesting that the uproar over the sex abuse scandal was being motivated by an ‘anti-aid agenda’.
Mark Goldring, GB chief executive, said the reaction to the scandal was ‘disproportionate’, adding that it was not as if aid workers had ‘murdered babies in their cots’.
He said the ‘scale and intensity’ of criticism did not fit the crimes, adding: ‘Anything we say is being manipulated.’
Last night critics again called on Mr Goldring to resign, saying that he was trying to ‘spin’ the crisis to make Oxfam the victim, despite a catalogue of allegations about the behaviour of staff. Tory MP and aid critic Andrew Bridgen said: ‘He needs to resign. He is operating in a parallel reality. He’s trying to spin it so Oxfam is the victim in all this. That is the ultimate denial.’
In the interview with The Guardian yesterday, Mr Goldring accused critics of ‘gunning’ for the charity over the Haiti sex scandal. He spoke out after reports that several of the charity’s aid workers had used prostitutes in Haiti while providing humanitarian work, following the 2011 earthquake.
He accused those who have spoken out against the alleged crimes of being motivated in part by an ‘anti-aid agenda’. Asked if he believed this alleged agenda was responsible for the attacks on the charity, he said: ‘The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?
Mark Goldring, GB chief executive, said the reaction to the scandal was ‘disproportionate’, adding that it was not as if aid workers had ‘murdered babies in their cots’
‘Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability.
‘I struggle to understand it. You think, “My God, there’s something going on there”.’
But when asked if anti-aid MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel were exploiting the crisis, he said: ‘What I’m really concerned about is that this is not used as an approach to attack aid.’
Asked about accusations that Oxfam covered up the scandal, he said this decision was ‘wrong’ but said he could understand why it happened. ‘If Oxfam’s business is to help save lives, if your organisation is there to actually help make the world a better place, I can see why people thought this was the right thing to do,’ he added.
Mr Goldring admitted the organisation’s failings but said the ‘scale and intensity’ of criticism was disproportionate, adding: ‘We’ve been savaged.’
Yesterday he repeated his apology for Oxfam’s failings and agreed that major reforms were needed. But he warned that the controversy has already affected donations.
‘I find you very sexy, how can I help you?’: Haitian earthquake victim reveals how disgraced Oxfam official chatted her up when she was just 17 and PREGNANT and lured her into a sexual relationship
A former prostitute who says she regularly slept with an Oxfam boss at the centre of the sex scandal waived her right to anonymity yesterday.
Speaking on ITV’s lunchtime news, Mikelange Gabou, 23, insisted that she repeatedly slept with 68-year-old Roland van Hauwermeiren in Haiti when she was only a teenager and mother of a young child.
Currently eight months pregnant with her second child, she told ITV News: ‘He took my phone number and asked me if he could help, I said yes.
‘He was helping me but he was in a relationship with me … sexually.
‘He gave me nappies, milk, and money for my child.’
Mikelange Gabou claims sacked Oxfam boss Roland Van Hauwermeiren started a sexual relationship with her when she was just 17
Earlier she had told the Daily Mail: ‘He took advantage of me and he took advantage of the situation.
‘I feel like he exploited me. I needed money for food and to feed my baby. He could have helped me without paying to have sex with me.’
This week Mr van Hauwermeiren said he was ‘not perfect’ but insisted he had never slept with prostitutes in Haiti.
Miss Gabou told ITV that she met the Belgian former aid worker when he drove past her in an Oxfam vehicle and stopped to ask for her number. They started a sexual relationship a month after she gave birth.
Asked how old she was when she started having sex with him she said: ‘Seventeen, because it was right after I had the child.’ The age of consent in Haiti is 18.
Miss Gabou also alleged that Mr van Hauwermeiren ‘loves’ lesbians and orgies. She claimed the former Oxfam boss ‘used to have a lot of girls. He drinks a lot of whisky and went clubbing a lot’.
When asked why their relationship ended, she said: ‘Because he was with too many girls! If girls are coming from left and right, lesbians, he’s receiving two girls at once…
‘It’s money that’s being spent, so maybe he no longer had money to give me.’
She claimed: ‘Roland is someone who loves orgies… he loves lesbians. In a week he may have five girls coming in and out of his place.’
Miss Gabou said she had not seen van Hauwermeiren in six years but was not sad at what happened because ‘when he was here, he took care of me’.