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

Penny Lawrence said that she was “desperately sorry” for the harm and distress that had been caused.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Nick Ansell

THE DEPUTY CHIEF executive of UK charity Oxfam resigned today over the charity’s handling of a prostitution scandal in Haiti involving its staff members and allegations of similar behaviour in Chad.

“Over the last few days, we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behaviour of staff in Chad, as well as Haiti, that we failed to adequately act upon,” Penny Lawrence said in a statement.

“It is now clear that these allegations – involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behaviour of both the country director and members of his team in Chad – were raised before he moved to Haiti.

As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility.

Lawrence said that she was “desperately sorry” for the harm and distress that this had caused.

“I am desperately sorry for the harm and distress that this has caused to Oxfam’s supporters, the wider development sector and most of all the vulnerable people who trusted us,” she said.

It has been such a privilege to work for such an amazing organisation that has done and needs to continue to do such good in the world.

The charity has come under strong pressure 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.

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.

Over the weekend UK prime minister Theresa May called for an investigation into the allegations.

“The reports of what is unacceptable behaviour by senior aid workers in Haiti are truly shocking,” a spokeswoman for Theresa May said.

“We want to see Oxfam provide all the evidence they hold of the events to the Charity Commission for a full and urgent investigation of these very serious allegations.”

© – AFP 2018

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: Theresa May calls for Oxfam probe over ‘shocking’ Haiti prostitutes allegations

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

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