British Government Cuts Off Funding to Oxfam After ‘Sex For Aid’ Scandal

The British government has cut off funding to Oxfam following the aid worker sex scandal, until the charity can show it has made significant reforms.

International Development secretary Penny Mordaunt said Oxfam is barred from receiving public money until the Department for International Development (DfID) is satisfied that they can meet the “high standards we expect”.

The charity received £31.7 million from the government in 2016, a figure representing around 8 per cent of its total income of £409 million that year.

Ms Mordaunt said in a statement Friday: “My priority is to deliver for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, while keeping people safe from harm. We want to ensure that programmes we are already financially committed to are being delivered appropriately by Oxfam or any other DFiD partner.

“We have been very clear that we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require.

“In taking these actions I am very aware that there are hundreds of good, brave and compassionate people working for Oxfam. They have been poorly served by Oxfam’s leadership team too.

“Clearly Oxfam have a long way to go before they can regain the trust of the British public. My priority is to deliver for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, while keeping people safe from harm,” she added.

In an interview on Friday, Oxfam GB boss Mark Goldring told the Guardian he couldn’t understand “the intensity and the ferocity” of the criticism levelled at the charity, suggesting that no one “murdered babies in their cots”.

In the weekend following February 8th, when it was revealed that the charity had allegedly covered up aid workers’ use of prostitutes in Haiti, more than 1,000 direct debits to Oxfam were cancelled while a number of high profile backers including Minnie Driver and Archbishop Desmond Tutu withdrew their support.

While DfiD is the first large donor to cut off cash, The Times reports that more than £80 million of funding to Oxfam is at risk because of the scandal, as big donors including Ikea, Marks & Spencer and the European Commission are reviewing their positions on further donations.

Last week the charity was hit with fresh claims that sexual assault and rape took place amongst aid workers in South Sudan, while former global head of safeguarding, Helen Evans, told Channel 4 News that Oxfam staff had reported a “culture of sexual abuse” in some offices.

Channel 4 also cited figures which showed seven incidents of “inappropriate conduct with children” volunteering in Oxfam’s hundreds of high-street charity shops in 2013/14.

Since the Oxfam scandal was made public, other NGOs have admitted receiving reports of sexual abuse including Austrian children’s charity SOS Children’s Villages and Doctors Without Borders. The latter organisation, which has been accused of working with criminal gangs in their work ferrying migrants to Europe from the Libyan coast, said it fired 19 workers last year following sexual abuse allegations.

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