June 15, 2018 / 4:52 PM / 10 months ago

Oxfam cuts operations after sex abuse scandal hits funding

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global aid agency Oxfam said on Friday it would make cuts to its operations due to a drop in funding after a sex abuse scandal centering on its staff that saw the charity kicked out of Haiti.

The British aid organization has been rocked by allegations that staff, including a former Haiti country director, paid for sex with vulnerable women during a relief mission after a devastating earthquake hit the island nation in 2010.

Oxfam has told staff it needs to urgently find 16 million pounds ($21 million) of savings and reduce the number of its aid projects as it copes with the fallout from the Haiti sex scandal, according to an internal document obtained by British paper The Guardian.

An Oxfam spokeswoman did not comment on the document, which was circulated among the charity’s staff last week by its outgoing head, Mark Goldring, according to the newspaper.

She said the charity was cutting head office and support functions to ensure it could maintain most of its on-the-ground aid programs - such as helping Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh and people struggling to survive conflict in Yemen.

“We are devastated that the appalling behavior of some former staff in Haiti and shortcomings in how we dealt with that eight years ago means we now have less money to provide clean water, food and other support to people who need it,” she said.

Haiti’s government on Wednesday said it was withdrawing Oxfam Great Britain’s right to operate in the Caribbean country “for violation of Haitian law and serious violation of the principle of the dignity of the human beings”.

Oxfam in February agreed not to bid for any new funding from Britain until London is satisfied the charity meets sufficient ethical standards, and has yet to see any change of stance.

From Oxfam staff paying for sex in Haiti to Syrian women exploited in return for aid and the harassment of women in the head offices of global charities, the humanitarian sector has this year been rattled by media coverage of sexual wrongdoing.

A survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in February found more than 120 staff from about 20 leading global charities were fired or lost their jobs last year over sexual misconduct.

($1 = 0.7534 pounds)

Writing by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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