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1ST LEAD Former safeguarding head says Oxfam ignored sex-for-aid concerns By Bill Smith, dpa

Europe
13.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - The former head of safeguarding for Oxfam has accused the charity and a government watchdog of ignoring her concerns about multiple allegations of "sexual exploitation and abuse" in Oxfam‘s overseas operations and British network.

The accusations by Helen Evans follow Oxfam‘s denial that it covered up scandals involving the alleged payment for sex with young women, possibly including underage girls, by Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 and Chad in 2006.

Evans, Oxfam‘s safeguarding head from 2012 to 2015, told the Channel 4 broadcaster that she had warned that the number of abuse allegations "was likely to be far wider than was being reported."

In 2015, she received reports of "a woman being coerced to have sex in a humanitarian response by another aid worker."

The same day, she was informed of "another case where a woman had been coerced in exchange for aid, and another one where ... a member of staff had been struck off [the child protection register] for sexual abuse and hadn‘t disclosed that."

"In June 2015, I took my concerns to the [British] Charity Commission, specifically that Oxfam was failing to report incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse to the Charity Commission, [and] that the scale of sexual abuse was likely to be far wider than was being reported to Oxfam," Evans said in a Twitter statement Tuesday.

She also raised concerns that "children aged 14-plus, volunteering in UK shops" raising funds for Oxfam, were "being put at risk due to failures in background checks.

"Haiti wasn‘t an isolated incident," she said, adding that allegations started to "flood in" as Oxfam tightened its reporting procedures.

In statements published on Twitter following Evans‘ allegations, Oxfam International said it had "reviewed and strengthened its policies and practices in regard to safeguarding in the wake of the Haiti case."

"We know we have more to do to prevent harassment, abuse and exploitation and are fully committed to doing this, urgently and in an open and transparent manner," Oxfam said.

"We hope we can restore the trust of all the people who believe in Oxfam‘s mission."

 

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