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oxfam ireland

Oxfam Ireland emails supporters, promises to 'rebuild trust' after UK staff's Haiti prostitution scandal

Oxfam Ireland confirmed that none of its staff were involved in the scandal.

OXFAM IRELAND HAS sent an email to people who pay monthly direct debits to it reassuring them that its branch wasn’t involved in the recent Haiti sex worker scandal involving Oxfam UK workers.

The charity has come under intense pressure over the past week after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

The deputy chief executive of the UK branch resigned on Monday over the charity’s handling of the scandal.

Yesterday evening, people who pay monthly direct debits to Oxfam Ireland received a statement from Oxfam Ireland’s chief executive, Jim Clarken, stressing that he feels “deep shame in the behaviour of those who failed to uphold our values”.

Clarken said that the behaviour of some staff employed by Oxfam UK in Haiti 2011 was “totally unacceptable”.

“We want to make it very clear – we completely condemn any form of abuse against the people we work to protect and support,” he said.

It was revealed in The Times’ report that groups of young prostitutes were invited to homes and guesthouses paid for by the charity for sex parties, according to one source who claimed to have seen footage of an orgy with sex workers wearing Oxfam t-shirts.

Clarken stressed that no Irish employees were involved in the scandal.

No staff employed by Oxfam Ireland were involved in these cases and they did not involved the misuse of public funds. All of the money you helped raise for Haiti was spent as planned on the relief response to the 2010 earthquake.

“Oxfam Ireland has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct and will not stand for any kind of harassment of staff, partners, volunteers or those we serve,” Clarken said.

“It is my priority to ensure that our staff, volunteers and the people we work for are safe and valued.”

He reached out to those who have signed up to pay monthly direct debits to Oxfam Ireland, noting that while the recent news may have broken trust, the charity will work towards rebuilding relationships with its supporters.

I feel great responsibility in the trust that you place in us and I know that this awful situation may have damaged that. We promise to continue to be open and transparent and rebuild any trust lost.

“I want to ensure you that this incident does not represent Oxfam or what we stand for. The deplorable actions of a small number of people will not stop the vital work against poverty and injustice worldwide that you contribute to every day,” Clarken said.

Deepening scandal

The British government warned today that it would cut off ties with foreign aid charities that cover up sex scandals.

“Unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation — we cannot be partners,” Britain’s International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told a conference in Stockholm, according to extracts of her speech released by her ministry.

“The same message goes out to any organisation or partner which receives UK aid. We want procedures to change. We want leaders to lead with moral authority and we want staff to be held accountable,” she said.

An Oxfam spokesperson in the UK said the aid agency had received 1,270 cancellations of donations by direct debit between Saturday and Monday — compared to a normal monthly average of 600.

With reporting by AFP. 

Read: Deputy chief executive of Oxfam in the UK resigns over prostitution scandal in Haiti

More: Oxfam aid workers used prostitutes during Haiti relief efforts, report claims

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