Senior leaders of British aid organization Oxfam are to meet UK government officials Monday amid warnings it could lose public funding over allegations its staff hired prostitutes in Haiti. This comes amidst another allegation of sex for hire in Chad.
Ahead of the meeting, Oxfam announced it would strengthen its staff vetting procedures and introduce a new whistleblower helpline as part of a package of reforms.
“It is not sufficient to be appalled by the behavior of our former staff — we must and will learn from it and use it as a spur to improvement,” Oxfam’s chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson, said in a statement.
The aid agency has come under fire after an investigation by The Times newspaper in London
revealed allegations that Oxfam’s leaders tried to cover-up sex crimes by senior employees after the devastating 2010 quake, which killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The aid workers, including the Oxfam country director at the time, Roland van Hauwermeiren, were accused of turning the villa rented by the organization into a makeshift brothel, with prostitutes only wearing Oxfam T-shirts.
On Sunday, the aid agency said it had been “shocked and dismayed” to hear more allegations about the use of sex workers by Oxfam staff in Chad in 2006.
“While we can’t corroborate the information from Chad at the moment, it highlights again unacceptable behavior by a small number of people and the need for a sector-wide approach to tackle the problem,” Oxfam said in a statement.