Oxfam bosses face grilling over Haiti sex scandal

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Senior Oxfam figures are facing a grilling from MPs over the aid worker sex scandal which has engulfed the charity.

Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring appears before the Commons International Development Committee on Tuesday amid continuing anger over allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by Oxfam staff responding to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

His appearance, alongside the chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson, and Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, comes after the charity issued a formal apology to the government of the impoverished Caribbean state.

Oxfam has also released the report of an internal inquiry which called for other charities to be warned of “problem staff”, only for a number of those involved to take up other posts in the aid sector.

Oxfam sex allegations
Mark Goldring will give evidence to the Commons International Development Committee (Danny Lawson/PA)

The 10-page report was finally released by Oxfam after a leaked copy was published by The Times, prompting a storm of criticism over the way the episode was handled.

It detailed four dismissals and three resignations by staff over allegations ranging from the use of prostitutes on charity property to sexual exploitation of employees.

Suspicions that under-age sex workers had been exploited “cannot be ruled out”, according to the document.

It alleges the director of operations in the country, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, admitted using sex workers in his charity-funded accommodation and was granted a “phased and dignified exit”. Last week he denied ever using prostitutes in Haiti.

Several men at the centre of the allegations subsequently took up roles in aid organisations, including at Oxfam.

Mr Van Hauwermeiren became a senior figure at Action Against Hunger in Bangladesh, with the charity since claiming Oxfam made no mention of his alleged conduct in 2011.

Similarly, one former staff member was employed by Oxfam as a consultant in Ethiopia just months after being sacked, a move the charity said last week was a “serious error”.

The committee will also take evidence from Save The Children about proposals it has put forward on safeguarding and from the permanent secretary at the Department for International Development, Matthew Rycroft about what the department knew and what steps it is taking now.

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