Oxfam probing 26 new cases of sexual misconduct

Wednesday February 21 2018

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) on February 20, 2018 shows Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima speaking during an evidence session as witnesses before the International Development Committee of members of parliament at Portcullis House in London. AFP PHOTO  

By AFP

Oxfam says it is investigating 26 new cases of sexual misconduct which had been reported since a scandal broke earlier this month over its handling of a 2011 case in Haiti.
The British charity's chief executive Mark Goldring told a parliamentary committee in London that 16 of the cases related to its international operation.

"There are 26 cases that have come forward... They range in time frame from more recent events to long historic events where people did not report them at the time," Goldring said.
"We really want people to come forward," he added.
Goldring apologised "wholeheartedly" on behalf of Oxfam to the committee, which said it would conduct its own inquiry into abuses in the foreign aid sector.

The chief executive said safeguards had been put in place following an internal investigation in 2011 into the behaviour of some Oxfam staff in Haiti but admitted that the charity had not gone far enough.
Last week, Oxfam unveiled an action plan to tackle sexual harassment and abuse, including creating a new vetting system for staff.

The charity formally apologised to Haiti on Monday over the prostitution scandal rocking the aid charity. It expressed its "shame" and vowed to do better as it handed over a damning internal report into the allegations.
Deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned over the Haiti affair earlier last week and on Friday, Oxfam International's executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said it would haunt the charity.
"What happened in Haiti and afterwards is a stain on Oxfam that will shame us for years, and rightly so," she told the BBC, adding: "From the bottom of my heart, I am asking for forgiveness."

Made public earlier in the day, Oxfam's 2011 report into the behaviour of aid workers sent to Haiti revealed that three staff had physically threatened a witness in the prostitution investigation.
Oxfam's 2011 report, compiled in the year after aid workers were deployed to Haiti, revealed that seven staff were accused of using prostitutes at an Oxfam-funded residence.
Four staff were fired for gross misconduct and three others, including then country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren, were allowed to quit.

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