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Oxfam Sex Abuse: Victims of sex abuse were sent back to conflict zones to protect sexual predators, ‘poor behaviour’ tolerated

The Commission also found that Oxfam failed to adequately investigate allegations of sexual misconduct involving a 12-year-old and 13 years old.

Last year, Oxfam was hit by a pay-for-sex scandal after an investigation by The Times newspaper alleged that the charity organization covered up misconduct by senior aid workers in Haiti including the then country-director Ronald van Hauwermeiren.

The newspaper claimed that a confidential report by the charity found that Hauwermeiren had solicited prostitutes in the villa rented to him by the charity for operations in Haiti. Allegations of sexual exploitation of children were also present in the report but the charity stated that such allegations are unproven.

Read Also: Oxfam deputy head resigns over Haiti prostitution scandal. All you need to know. 

Now, further revolting details have emerged of the charity’s misdeeds in Haiti. The report by the Charity Commission claims that the organization “tolerated poor behaviour” and it approached allegations with the desire “to protect its reputation and donor relationships”.

The most damning allegation in the report remarks that victims of abuse were sent back to conflict zones by Oxfam to protect the sexual predators. It says, “Beneficiaries who raised complaints against Oxfam GB and UN staff were removed from camps and repatriated back to conflict zones by staff who wanted to protect their colleagues.”

The Commission also found that Oxfam failed to adequately investigate allegations of sexual misconduct involving a 12-year-old and 13 years old. The allegations of child abuse by its staff were not reported as they should have been and were not frank about the entire matter.

“What went wrong in Haiti did not happen in isolation. Our inquiry demonstrates that, over a period of years, Oxfam’s internal culture tolerated poor behaviour, and at times lost sight of the values it stands for,” said Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, which set up an inquiry into the allegations last year.

Oxfam’s Chair of Trustees, Caroline Thompson, said that the organization accepted the findings in the Commission report. “The Commission’s findings are very uncomfortable for Oxfam GB but we accept them. We now know that the 2011 investigation and reporting of what happened in Haiti were flawed; more should have been done to establish whether minors were involved,” she said in a statement.

The Deputy Head of Oxfam, Penny Lawrence, had resigned last year after the allegations surfaced admitting the charity’s inadequate response to past allegations of sexual misconduct by its workers in Haiti. Hauwermeiren resigned in 2011 after admitting that prostitutes had visited his villa.

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