79 Oxfam staff sacked after Haiti sex abuse scandal

The charity has reported an increase in global safeguarding cases in the past year.

Details published by Oxfam show the employees were dismissed for offences such as sexual harassment, exploitation and bullying after receiving almost 300 complaints since the Haiti scandal.

It's the second disclosure since the international agency committed to being more open and transparent as part of a ten-point action plan to improve safeguarding and work culture.

The new data shows that Oxfam received 294 safeguarding reports across the confederation in the year to March 2019. Of these, 221 were closed and 73 remain under investigation. 

Of the cases that have now been closed, there were:

  • 23 cases of sexual abuse;
  • 25 cases of exploitation (including actions such as paying for sex);
  • 74 cases of sexual harassment;
  • 98 cases of other forms of misconduct (such as bullying);
  • One case where information was not provided.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: "Oxfam is a different organisation today than it was 14 months ago when we launched our ten-point action plan.

"We have underpinned our unconditional apologies for the specific mistakes we made in Haiti in 2011 with real action.

"We’re determined to learn, cooperate and improve and I believe we’re beginning to see the tangible results.

"I believe that Oxfam staff now have a fundamentally deeper appreciation of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, and more trust in the new processes that we have in challenging it."

She continued: "We realise we have so much more to do. There is no 'job done' end date. We strive always to be a better organisation – not a perfect one.

"Changing culture takes time, but we are on that permanent journey of understanding, self-reflection and transformations, both the subtle and the profound."

An Oxfam survey, completed by nearly 4,000 members of staff, revealed most feel safe to report safeguarding issues formally, but a minority still have negative experiences in doing so, which is 'still too many' according the the charity. 

The Independent Commission that Oxfam set up in March 2018 to review its culture and safeguarding will publish its final report in June, following visits to nine countries.

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