Two workers from the International NGO collective Oxfam were suspended last week in the wake of sexual exploitation allegations against them. Now the UK government has suspended Oxfam from receiving any financial aid. These two workers were operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This comes just after Oxfam became eligible again to apply for aid funds from the UK government in March. The NGO was banned for three years from receiving aid funding from the UK because of Oxfam’s cover-up of sexual exploitation coming to light in 2018.
UK’s Foreign and Development Office clarified that Oxfam will not be able to apply for UK aid money until it clears up these fresh allegations.
“All organizations bidding for UK aid must meet the high standards of safeguarding required to keep the people they work with safe,” the Foreign Office’s spokesperson said.
Recent reports “call into question” Oxfam’s ability to meet those high standards, he added.
Oxfam, on the other hand, tried the suspensions as positive, saying that suspensions show “our commitment to tackle abuses of power”.
Oxfam staff’s sexual exploitation in Haiti
In 2018, the uncovering of Oxfam staff’s sexual exploitation in Haiti, wherein the Haiti Oxfam chief solicited prostitutes in a villa which was paid and provided for by Oxfam, had exposed the dark underbelly of international charity organizations and NGOs in general.
Many promises of reform and change were made in the wake of the 2018 scandal, but these latest allegations coming out from the DRC clearly pose new questions on whether enough change has been made.
According to the UK Foreign Office, Oxfam is yet to meet the highest standards of safekeeping. After three years of being banned from receiving funds and just becoming eligible again, Oxfam is now once again shunned by the UK government.
In the wake of all these allegations, in combination with the fallout from the 2018 scandal, Oxfam’s reputation has suffered an almost irrecoverable blow.
Charges of sexual exploitation in DR Congo
Last week, Oxfam revealed that it had suspended two of its workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of an “external investigation” into the allegations. However, according to The Times, whistleblowers were “frustrated at the length of time taken to complete the investigation”
Former and current staff members of Oxfam made allegations of sexual exploitation, bullying, fraud, and nepotism against 11 people in a letter sent to the Oxfam leadership in February, the paper said.
After Oxfam’s Haiti sexual exploitation scandal came to light in 2018, the UK Charity Commission concluded that Oxfam had a “culture of poor behavior” and was issued with a warning over its “mismanagement”. In the wake of this scandal, thousands of people canceled their regular donations to Oxfam, causing Oxfam to make cuts worth 16 million British pounds.
It is to be noted that the CEO of Oxfam India, Amitabh Behar, wrote a fawning article on the Congress party. In the article, Behar offers numerous sermons to the Congress party and eulogizes its idea of India. Furthermore, a Board Member of Oxfam India was involved in the drafting of the deeply dangerous and anti-Hindu Communal Violence Bill.