Oxfam GB has said it is “disappointed but understands” the decision made overnight by the Haitian Government to withdraw the charity’s permission to work in the country, over allegations of sexual abuse by staff.
In a statement shared with Civil Society News this morning, a spokeswoman for Oxfam GB apologised again to the government and Haitian people. It also confirmed that the charity remained committed to “strengthen our safeguarding globally” following the sexual misconduct allegations which rocked the organisation in February.
“Oxfam is disappointed but understands the Haiti Government’s decision to withdraw Oxfam Great Britain’s permission to work in Haiti. The behaviour of some former Oxfam staff working in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake was completely unacceptable. We have apologised to the government and the Haitian people for what happened.
“From 2011, we introduced stronger measures to prevent harassment and abuse, including a whistle-blowing hotline and a dedicated safeguarding team. In February this year we announced a comprehensive plan to strengthen our safeguarding globally.
“We have increased staff and funding for safeguarding, including in Haiti, set up a global database for references to make it harder for wrongdoers to work in the sector and appointed an independent commission to review our culture and practices so that we can make further improvements.
“We are committed to continue to do all we can to help the millions of people every year affected by humanitarian disasters and to improve the lives of those living in poverty.”
The spokeswoman said that, while Oxfam GB will no longer be operating directly in Haiti, the wider charity will continue to work there through other affiliate members.
The Guardian reports that three ministers from the Haitian government withdrew Oxfam GB’s status as a non-governmental organisation “for violation of Haitian law and serious violation of the principle of the dignity of the human beings”.