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Guernsey's Overseas Aid Commission condemns Oxfam's actions

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Guernsey's Overseas Aid Commission condemns Oxfam's actions

Guernsey's Overseas Aid Commission has said it is deeply concerned by news that Oxfam staff hired sex workers while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.

The British aid charity is currently dealing with accusations that it concealed findings that its executive staff and volunteers had hired prostitutes while in Haiti following a devastating earthquake which hit the island.

In 2011 following that disaster, the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission made an award of £50,000 to the Disaster Emergency Committee for the Haiti appeal. Oxfam was one of 14 charities which received money from the committee at that time.

Oxfam is not currently in receipt of any funding from the Commission, however.

The Guernsey Commission added that it condemned all abuse of vulnerable people by those in positions of responsibility towards them:

"Reports of abuse by aid workers are especially horrific because these are people entrusted with caring and life-saving work in the wake of terrible disasters," a Commission spokesperson said.

"The Commission shares islanders' outrage and dismay at these emerging allegations."

Haiti Port au Prince

Above: Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti, following the earthquake.

While there are reports from the time of an internal investigation, the charities watchdog in the UK said Oxfam did not disclose the full details of the incident. 

Oxfam sacked four workers and let three resign, but it denies any cover-up.

Now, as of today, it has been revealed in UK national papers that the abuse has been "rife" in Oxfam shops as well. The scandal widened as reports were made by a whistleblower that Oxfam shops across the UK have faced allegations of sexual abuse, with a total of 123 claims of sexual harassment made across high street stores. 

Guernsey used to have an Oxfam shop at the top of Smith Street, and none of the allegations involve it. 

Urgent enquiries into these allegations are being undertaken by the UK Department for International Development and the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and our Commission has said it was following these developments closely. 

Now, a number of senior staff from Oxfam have resigned, including its Deputy Chief Executive.

Emilie Yerby

Above: Deputy Emilie Yerby, President of the Overseas Aid Commission, has said the reported behaviour of some Oxfam staff was "shocking".

Deputy Emilie Yerby, President of Guernsey's Overseas Aid and Development Commission, said: “Our priority remains the people who are receiving international development aid and emergency relief. These are people who have lived through devastating disasters, or faced unremitting hardship throughout their lives.

"The fact that, in some cases, this has been compounded by the shocking behaviour of some aid workers is appalling and unacceptable. In light of these revelations, our focus, and that of the charities we work with, needs to be on doing aid better – on making sure that people who receive aid have nothing to fear from the people who should be helping them; and on setting and insisting on the highest standards of conduct and integrity within the sector.” 

The Commission spokesperson said it would be closely monitoring the investigations into Oxfam, and determine what action may be needed in the future.

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