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Oxfam’s reaction to recent news on sexual misconduct in Haiti and Chad

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Source: Oxfam New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Oxfam’s reaction to recent news on sexual misconduct in Haiti and Chad

In 2011 some members of Oxfam Great Britain staff in Haiti acted in a way that was totally unacceptable and is the most appalling mark against the high values we set ourselves at Oxfam.  On the recent allegations of sexual misconduct in 2006 in Chad, Oxfam is shocked and dismayed. While Oxfam Great Britain cannot corroborate the information on Chad at the moment it highlights again unacceptable behaviour by a small number of people and the need for a sector-wide approach to tackle the problem.

Oxfam’s priority is to stand fully by the survivors of such reprehensible behavior – and to ensure that such behavior is absolutely rooted out of our organisation. We stand firmly against the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.

In Haiti, as soon as Oxfam Great Britain became aware of the allegations Oxfam immediately launched an internal investigation. 

Oxfam’s primary aim was always to formally investigate and take action against those involved and we publicly announced, including to media, both the investigation and the action we took as a result.  Four members of Oxfam Great Britain staff were dismissed as a result of the investigation and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the investigation. Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.  

Oxfam Great Britain has not and would not provide a positive reference for any of those that were dismissed or resigned as a result of the case in Haiti. Unfortunately, there is nothing Oxfam can do to stop individuals falsifying references, or former or current Oxfam staff that worked with the individual providing a reference in a personal capacity.

That these events took place seven and twelve years ago respectively and involved a small number of Oxfam Great Britain staff is no cause for complacency for any Oxfam.

Globally, we in Oxfam, know we must do more to continue to change our own culture and to create the strongest possible policies to prevent harassment and protect people we work with around the world. We are doing that now with all our effort.

Since the Haiti case in 2011 we have introduced a range of measures to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place and improve how we handle any allegations. We have a Global Taskforce on Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Exploitation & Abuse that is co-chaired by our Oxfam International Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.

We want to use this opportunity to reiterate that our confidential global ‘whistleblowing’ line is available to all Oxfam staff and all the people we work with, wherever we work. We know the only way to change culture and make the safeguarding system work is to be open and transparent about it.

We hope we can rebuild our trust with our supporters around the world who know, as we do, that the actions of a few do not represent all that Oxfam stands for. 

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