UK

Oxfam sex scandal: Haiti suspends charity's operations

An Oxfam sign in Port-au-Prince Image copyright Reuters

Haiti has suspended Oxfam GB operations, as it investigates claims of sexual misconduct by charity staff after the 2010 earthquake.

The country's minister of planning and external cooperation said Oxfam made a "serious error" by failing to inform Haitian authorities of the allegations.

Aviol Fleurant said a decision on the charity's right to operate in Haiti would be made in about two months.

Oxfam says it will improve its global safeguarding policies and practices.

In a statement, the charity said its executives met government officials in Haiti on Thursday and were committed to cooperating with the investigation.

It said it would establish an independent commission into the events and put more staff and resources into its safeguarding teams.

Oxfam added that staff attached to its Italy, Spain and Quebec branches will continue working on projects in Haiti but it was anticipated the temporary suspension will have a "significant impact" on their work.

Oxfam also reiterated its earlier apology to the people of Haiti.

Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring told MPs earlier this week he was sorry for damage done to the people of Haiti and to the wider efforts of aid workers.

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Media captionMark Goldring: 'We are sorry for the damage done to Haiti and the wider aid efforts'

Seven Oxfam members of staff left the charity in 2011 following the organisation's own investigation into whether staff hired prostitutes while working overseas.

Oxfam denied a cover-up but its handling of the scandal, first reported in The Times earlier this month, is being investigated by the Charity Commission.

Mr Goldring said 26 claims of recent and historical sexual misconduct involving Oxfam staff have been made since the scandal broke - 16 of them outside the UK.

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