Haiti Suspends Oxfam GB's Operating Right Amid Misconduct Probe

On Thursday, Oxfam GB said: "The government of Haiti announced today that it will suspend Oxfam Great Britain's operation in the country for two months, while it investigates how Oxfam GB handled the case of former staff having paid for sex during the agency's humanitarian response in 2011".

It said senior officials with Oxfam International met with Haitian government officials and committed to cooperate with their investigation.

The British arm of the world-famous organisation is set to be investigated by Haitian authorities, with the sex scandal raising questions over the future of the charity's funding.

Fleurant said the suspension was ordered due to "serious failings" by Oxfam Great Britain between 2010 and 2011, and that a definitive decision on its ability to operate in Haiti would be made in two months following a review of the evidence.

Oxfam said it expects the suspension to "have a significant impact on its work" but it will continue working on reconstruction and development projects in Haiti through its affiliate organisations, Oxfam Italy, Oxfam Intermón (Spain) and Oxfam Quebec.

The Caribbean nation's government announced the United Kingdom arm of the charity has had its authorisation to work in Haiti revoked for at least two months over "serious failings" between 2010 and 2011.

Seven Oxfam workers were fired or resigned in 2011 after allegations of misconduct during the recovery effort following a 2010 quake.

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Four staff were fired for gross misconduct and three others, including Van Hauwermeiren, were allowed to quit.

A young Haitian woman told The Times newspaper she had had relations with the former Oxfam country director in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, when she was 16 and he was 61.

The charity had previously said it would hand over its full unredacted internal report into the 2011 scandal to Haitian ministers.

"It's a good decision and it also sends the right message to other NGO's operating in the mess of Haiti", said Haitian lawyer Mario Joseph, while warning that such talk "could be much ado about nothing if all the means to carry out an inquiry are not deployed to bring these people to justice".

Oxfam has agreed to stop bidding for Government funding while it acts over the crisis.

The Haiti scandal has opened the charity to greater scrutiny, leading to 26 new cases of sexual misconduct, most involving its global operations.

He also apologised over Oxfam's initial communication with the Charity Commission.

  • Myrtle Hill