Latin America & Caribbean

Oxfam: Haiti's president condemns UK charity over scandal

President Jovenel Moise at an event marking eighth anniversary of earthquake, speaking on stage in Port-au-Prince Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Jovenel Moise condemned "sexual predator" staff exploiting "needy people in their moment of greatest vulnerability"

The president of Haiti has strongly condemned UK charity Oxfam, after it emerged its staff hired prostitutes while delivering aid in 2011.

The charity was accused by a UK newspaper of concealing the actions.

In a Twitter post, Jovenel Moise condemned the actions as an "extremely serious violation of human dignity".

A senior government source in Haiti confirmed to the BBC that an investigation will now be launched into foreign aid agencies operating there.

Haitians angered by Oxfam sex scandal

What is the charity accused of?

One of the UK's biggest charities, Oxfam, was the subject of a report in the Times newspaper last week.

The article accused the charity of concealing the findings of a 2011 inquiry into claims senior aid workers, including Haiti's national director, paid local prostitutes for sex.

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Media captionFormer Oxfam employee Widza Bryant: "I was told by many locals there were... sexual relations"

Oxfam were in the country offering relief following a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010.

The charity has since confirmed sexual misconduct occurred, and that several staff members were dismissed or resigned after the internal investigation, but denies any cover-up.

It has been accused by a UK charity watchdog, which has launched an inquiry, of failing to disclose the full details.

Oxfam's deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence has resigned over the handling of the scandal, and the UK government has threatened to cut funding to the charity's projects.

How has Haiti reacted?

Posting on his Twitter account (in French) Haitian President Jovenel Moise spoke out about the scandal for the first time on Monday.

"There is nothing more outrageous and dishonest than a sexual predator who uses his position as part of the humanitarian response to a natural disaster to exploit needy people in their moment of greatest vulnerability," he said.

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Media captionBBC world affairs correspondent Will Grant says locals believe aid agencies have enjoyed "impunity"

"What happened with Oxfam in Haiti is an extremely serious violation of human dignity," he said in another tweet.

Several former members of Oxfam's local staff have said they tried to raise concerns but felt their complaints were ignored.

Several Haitian NGOs have said that the problems with Oxfam in Haiti were institutional.

Pierre Esperance, the head of Haiti's National Human Rights Defence Network, told the BBC: "Oxfam, after the earthquake, became like a factory."

"A big organisation with a lot of people with bad management. People who don't have any skill regarding development, with a lot of money, and this is the result."

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