Oxfam: Minnie Driver withdraws support over Haiti scandal

Glen Norman
February 15, 2018

Hollywood star Minnie Driver has become the first celebrity to quit as an Oxfam ambassador following allegations that senior staff working in crisis zones paid for sex with vulnerable locals and the charity also faces a challenge to hang on to major corporate partners.

Oxfam, a United Kingdom -based charity, is reeling from reports that emergency aid teams paid for sex while serving in Chad and Haiti-and that top officials have long known about the allegations.

FOLLOWING REVELATIONS of abuse allegations and a subsequent cover-up by global aid charity Oxfam, worldwide development minister Alasdair Allan has written to Scotland-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working overseas to stress a zero tolerance policy on abuse or misconduct.

In a survey published last Friday, supplemented by an article dated Monday, February 12, the London newspaper accuses several agents and executives of Oxfam, which often plays the role of the Polisario's lawyer, to have used prostitutes at the expense of the humanitarian organization.

Helen Evans, who was in charge of investigating allegations against Oxfam staff members between 2012 and 2015, told Channel 4 television that abuse cases she had heard of included a woman who had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid.

No wonder. According to Oxfam GB's former deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence, the allegations of sexual misconduct were first raised about the Oxfam staff in an earlier mission in Chad.

Scandal hit Britain's best-known charity after media reported how Oxfam had covered up the use of prostitutes by senior staff after the 2010 Haiti natural disaster.

"I would like to place on record my honest thanks for the years of dedicated service that Penny has given to Oxfam and the fight against poverty around the world".

"Nonetheless, we are committed to regularly reviewing our procedures, and therefore are joining an initiative with other UK-based overseas development agencies and the Charity Commission to strengthen cross-sector information sharing and protection of vulnerable people".

The 48-year-old tweeted: "All I can tell you about this terrible revelation about Oxfam is that I am devastated".

The report also highlighted instances of rape, verbal sexual abuse, child pornography and prostitution and trafficking of youngsters, many poor, displaced or orphaned by conflict.

Oxfam said that they were "grateful" for the actress and her devotion to the charity in the last few years.

"However, the Scottish Government will not hesitate to take appropriate action whenever we suspect that any abuse has occurred, and we expect the same commitment from those working with us".

Meanwhile the Department for International Development (DFID) said Friday it was reviewing its relationship with the UK-based charity, to which it gave almost £32 million (36 million euros/$44 million) previous year.

"We want leaders to lead with moral authority and we want staff to be held accountable", she said.

The recent allegations concerning Haiti and Chad relate to Oxfam GB, one of the 20 affiliate organisations.

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