EU warns charities after Oxfam sex scandal

The Oxfam Charity's CEO Mark Goldring (L) and Chair Caroline Thomson (R) leave the Department of International Trade and Development in London, Britain, 12 February 2018. Oxfam is engulfed in a scandal in which worker are alleged to have paid prostitutes for sex in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. [EPA-EFE/STR]

The EU on Monday ordered Oxfam to explain itself over a 2011 prostitution scandal in Haiti, warning charities that the bloc would cut their funding if they breached ethical standards.

UK-based Oxfam has been left reeling by reports in the Times newspaper that senior staff hired young sex workers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake which devastated the island.

The charity’s chiefs have been summoned by the British government to explain their handling of the scandal amid accusations it covered up the episode.

The European Union, a major international aid donor which provided Oxfam with more than €25 million in funding in 2017, said Monday it took a “zero tolerance” approach to misconduct by NGO partners.

“We expect Oxfam to fully clarify the allegations with maximum transparency as a matter of urgency, and we’re ready to review and, if needed, cease funding to any partner who is not living up to the required high ethical standards,” spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.

The EU provided Oxfam with €1.7 million in funding for work in Haiti in 2011, she said.

Oxfam International boss ‘broken-hearted’ by sexual misconduct scandal'

The executive director of Oxfam International said yesterday (11 February) she was heartbroken by a sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti involving aid workers that prompted Britain’s government to threaten to cut off aid funding to charities.

Oxfam, which employs around 5,000 staff and has 23,000 more volunteers, has announced new measures to tackle sexual abuse cases, though chief executive Mark Goldring has insisted there was no cover-up in 2011.

The charity is accused of failing to warn other aid agencies about the staff involved, which allowed them to get jobs among vulnerable people in other disaster areas.

Britain’s Department for International Development has said it is reviewing its relationship with Oxfam, to which it gave nearly £32 million (€36 million) last year.

Five years after the earthquake, poverty and political uncertainty reign in Haiti

Five years after the catastrophic earthquake which ravaged Haiti in 2010, killing over 200,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless, despite a massive international humanitarian and cooperation effort, the country remains the poorest of the Western hemisphere, and is prey to political instability.

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