The British NGO Oxfam is investigating 26 new cases of inappropriate sexual behaviour that have been reported since it was revealed that some of employees had hired prostitutes in earthquake-stricken Haiti in 2010.
The director general of Oxfam, Mark Goldring, said that sixteen of thee 26 cases concern the international programs of the NGO, and relate to “recent events” while others were described as “historical”. He made his comments during a grilling by members of an international development select committee of the UK Parliament. “We really want people to come forward,” he said, adding that investigations could again be conducted into some old cases.
Oxfam’s chief executive apologised on behalf of the NGO for the way the abuses were handled. “I’m sorry, we’re sorry, for the damage that Oxfam caused,” he said.
An internal report by the NGO, handed over to the Haitian government, detailed some of the abuses committed the aid group after it had deployed to Haiti following the deadly earthquake in 2010.
One official admits to paying prostitutes, other employees are accused of harassment and intimidation, and one witness was physically threatened.
Seven Oxfam staff in Haiti left the NGO as part of the investigation. In addition to the use of prostitutes, some were also blamed for harassment and intimidation against staff members, among others.
Four were dismissed for “serious misconduct” while three resigned, including the former Oxfam director in Haiti, Belgian Roland Van Hauwermeiren.
The scandal has also spread to other humanitarian organisations, including Save the Children. The British NGO is accused of letting one of its employees remain in his job, even after he been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards female colleagues.