Oxfam sacks three staff after abuse investigation

16 Jun 2021 News

Oxfam has sacked three members of staff after an investigation into sexual misconduct, bullying and nepotism.

The employees all worked for Oxfam in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A fourth member of staff left their job with Oxfam in the DRC before the investigation concluded because their contract had finished. The charity said that this individual would also have been sacked had they remained in post.

The allegations, first published in The Times newspaper earlier this year, led to the government blocking Oxfam from bidding for government funding “until the issues have been resolved”.

Allegations upheld

Oxfam announced the decision after external investigators upheld a series of allegations against staff in DRC. The investigation began in November 2020.

The charity said that allegations of sexual misconduct were upheld against two individuals, and allegations of bullying and intimidation were upheld against one employee.  

Allegations of inappropriate relationships and a failure to manage conflicts of interest were upheld against one individual, while allegations of nepotism were upheld against three members of staff.

Further allegations were investigated but were not substantiated.

One other member of Oxfam staff is still suspended while further investigations into alleged misconduct continue.

Oxfam GB boss: ‘I apologise’ 

Danny Sriskandarajah, the chief executive of Oxfam GB, apologised to those harmed by the behaviour.

Sriskandarajah said: “I apologise to everyone who has been hurt by these abuses of power and I hope the action we have taken demonstrates our resolve to tackle all forms of misconduct. 

“Oxfam is committed to doing all we can to prevent abuses of power and to taking action where wrongdoing is found.  

“We strongly encourage anyone who has concerns to report them, so we can hold those responsible for misconduct accountable.  
“I would like to thank all those who have assisted the investigation so far, especially survivors and witnesses. 

“I am also grateful to our staff in DRC who continue to work tirelessly to deliver our lifesaving work.”  
Oxfam said that it had kept the Charity Commission informed on the progress of the investigation, as well as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and other donors.

Earlier this year the Commission had lifted statutory supervision measures on Oxfam. This supervision had been in place since in 2019 to make sure that Oxfam implemented the regulator's recommendations about improving its culture and approach to keeping people safe. 

These recommendations had been made when the Commission concluded its investigation into the charity's handling of earlier allegations. 

The Commission had opened a statutory inquiry in February 2018 after the Times newspaper published a number of articles about how Oxfam had handled allegations of sexual misconduct in Haiti a number of years earlier. In 2011 four members of Oxfam’s staff in Haiti were fired and three, including the country director, resigned in the wake of allegations of bullying and harassment.  

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