Catholic charity sacks former Oxfam employee accused of sexual misconduct in Haiti

Pic Reuters

And on Wednesday a worker accused of sexual misconduct while working for Oxfam in Haiti that year was sacked from a role at aid charity Cafod.

The Good Will Hunting and Hope Springs star said she was "nothing short of horrified" by the allegations.

"But there is no moral defence for cutting aid that helps millions of people in extreme poverty and those facing conflict and persecution, and saves hundreds of thousands of women and girls from sexual violence".

Oxfam International chairman Dr Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight stepped down on Wednesday after being arrested in an unrelated corruption probe linked to his work as a government minister in Guatemala.

An Oxfam spokesman said cancellations of direct-debit donations in Great Britain had shot up between Saturday and Monday, from a typical 600 to almost 1,300, while adding that it was "too early" to judge the scandal's impact on donations. On average there are 600 cancellations per month. Oxfam has neither confirmed nor denied that specific account but has said an internal investigation in 2011 confirmed sexual misconduct occurred and it has apologized.

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The scandal has prompted an "unreserved apology" from Oxfam to the Government, donors, supporters and the people of Haiti over its handling of incidents including the alleged use of prostitutes by workers, in the earthquake-hit country.

Secretary Mordaunt announced the creation of a new unit that would "look at how to guard against criminal and predatory individuals being re-employed by charities and abusing again, including the option of establishing a global register of development workers".

Oxfam said it now had a dedicated safeguarding team, a confidential whistleblowing hotline, and safeguarding contact point within countries, but Mordaunt said that doesn't matter if "the moral leadership at the top of the organisation isn't there". Amid fears that sex predators have targeted aid organizations to get access to the vulnerable, Mordaunt told a conference in Sweden that she would be meeting with the National Crime Agency on Thursday to underscore her concerns. The NCA has led investigations which led to the jailing of British citizens for sex crimes committed overseas.

She said: "The recent revelations about Oxfam - not exclusively the actions perpetrated by a number of those staff - but the way the organisation responded to those events, should be a wake-up call to the sector".

"What happened with Oxfam in Haiti is an extremely serious violation of human dignity", he said in another tweet.

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A senior figure in Oxfam today said she was aware of past claims of sexual abuse involving the charity's staff in Asia.

The scandal has led to the resignation of Oxfam's deputy head and has thrown into question British government funding for the charity, which amounted to around £32 million (36 million euros, $44 million) past year.

This week, Mordaunt called on all British charities active overseas to be transparent about their operations. The European Commission has said it could cut off its funding for Oxfam, which stands at around 68 million euros ($84 million) a year.

"We shouldn't turn Oxfam into a scapegoat", Lespinasse told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

The scandals are escalating into a broader crisis for Britain's aid sector by bolstering critics in the ruling Conservative Party who believe the government should reduce spending on aid in favor of domestic priorities.

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