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Oxfam CEO urges victims to come forward as Asia abuse allegations revealed

Fresh Oxfam sexual exploitation accusations came to light on Tuesday (20). A senior Oxfam employee has also alleged she knew of abuse taking place in Asia (Photo by: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Fresh Oxfam sexual exploitation accusations came to light on Tuesday (20). A senior Oxfam employee has also alleged she knew of abuse taking place in Asia (Photo by: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)


OXFAM is investigating 26 new cases of sexual misconduct, including 16 in its international
operations, it was announced on Tuesday (20).

Speaking to a parliamentary committee in London early on Tuesday, Oxfam’s CEO Mark Goldring stated the charity wanted people to come forward with any further accusations,
before apologising “wholeheartedly” for Oxfam’s conduct over the issue.

Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring, Oxfam international’s director Winnie Byanyima and Oxfam’s chair Caroline Thomson attend a hearing of Parliament’s International Development Committe on Tuesday (20)

Sexual abuse is also alleged to have occurred in Bangladesh involving Oxfam aid workers, it was revealed last week.

Lan Mercado, Asia’s regional director at Oxfam, said she was aware of abuse having taken place in Asia including Bangladesh, the Philippines and Nepal. Mercado, who took up her role in 2016, claimed although she knew of similar abuse cases, the scale of misconduct was “not comparable” to the incidents reported in Haiti.

The Oxfam-Haiti scandal came to light earlier this month after various Oxfam senior aid workers based in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake reportedly paid local prostitutes for sex.

Since the initial allegations, reports have surfaced regarding abuse in Africa and Asia.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, a country director for Oxfam who admitted paying for sex and was offered a “phased and dignified exit” of resignation, became a senior figure in Bangladesh at charity Action Against Hunger (AAH) after his dismissal from Oxfam in 2011.

A spokesperson from AAH claimed Oxfam did not disclose his prior actions of misconduct. Van Hauwermeiren was the country director for Bangladesh between August 2012 and August 2014, but it was confirmed the French charity had not received any complaints about his behaviour.

“We have not received any alerts regarding sexual misconduct or abuse during the aid worker’s assignment with AAH,” the spokesperson said.

“We have now, however, begun a process to closely scrutinise that period.

“AAH commit to full disclosure and collaboration with the relevant authorities.”

Oxfam did not respond to Eastern Eye when asked about any on-going investigations in Asia.

On Monday (19), Oxfam made a formal apology to Haiti. The humanitarian charity expressed its “shame” and vowed to do better in the future.

Earlier in the day, the charity publicly revealed a 2011 report into the behaviour of aid workers working in Haiti. The report exposed three members of staff who had physically
threatened a witness in the prostitution investigation.

In response to the revelations, Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise posted on social media last week that there was “nothing more unworthy or dishonest than a sexual predator” taking advantage of a natural disaster “to exploit needy people in their moment of great vulnerability.”

Last Friday (16), international development secretary Penny Mordaunt said after threats from the UK government to halt funding, Oxfam had agreed not to bid for any more money until officials were satisfied that the charity could meet sufficient ethical standards.

“Oxfam has agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK Government funding until (the Department for International Development) is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect of our partners,” Mordaunt said in a statement.

Oxfam said it was right not to bid for any new government contracts, given public concern about the recent revelations. “We are committed to proving that we deserve
the confidence of the UK public,” it said.