Feb. 12 (UPI) — British officials said the charity Oxfam is risking $60 million in annual government funding over a lack of transparency in dealing with alleged sex crimes in Haiti.
The humanitarian aid group, a consortium of international charities, is under fire for allegedly failing to tell the British government’s Charity Commission the full story regarding behavior of aid workers who visited Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010.
Oxfam CEO Paul Goldberg and Parliament member and International Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt were set to meet Monday to discuss the government’s threat to withhold funding.
At issue is whether Haitian minors were sexually abused.
“We’ve made very clear that had the details of what has come out over the last few days been told to us, we would have dealt with this very differently,” said Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission’s director of investigations. “We were categorically told there was no abuse of beneficiaries involved in the allegations. Nor were we told that there were issues or possible issues around possible crimes, including those involving minors.”
Oxfam said an internal investigation revealed examples of bullying, inappropriate sexual behavior and intimidation of colleagues. No report of sexual abuse of aid recipients was reported.
Andrew McLeod, former operations chief of the United Nations’ Emergency Coordination Center, said “predatory pedophiles” have infiltrated charities to “access children” in the developing world.
“The impact of sex tourism laws make it unlawful for anybody to have sex with children under the age of 16 anywhere in the world or aid, abet or support that,” MacLeod said. “If they were adults, this man should be charged in front of the courts in Haiti because prostitution is illegal. If they are children, they should be charged in front of the courts here because he’s broken the sex tourism laws. If they are uncertain, they should pass the dossier to the police for investigation.”
As allegations regarding prostitution emerged, Russell acknowledged that the international charity sector is not immune to sex crimes.