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Oxfam denies cover-up over 'Haiti prostitutes'

Oxfam denies cover-up over 'Haiti prostitutes'

The charity Oxfam is on the brink of losing all of its government funding.

MPs have warned about "predatory paedophiles" following sexual assault allegations against more than 120 workers for British leading charities.

Numbers collected by four of Britain's leading overseas aid charities, seen by The Sunday Times, revealed that 125 allegations of sex abuse were made a year ago alone.

Hundreds of people, many of them Haitian, demonstrate against racism in Times Square on Martin Luther King (MLK) Day on January 15, 2018 in New York City.

The charity is under growing pressure after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 natural disaster which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

Caroline Thompson, who chairs Oxfam Great Britain's board of trustees, said charities that work in "fragile and unstable environments can become targets for abusers", but that the organization is committed to fixing the problems it faces.

"We have a zero tolerance policy for the type of activity that took place in this instance, and we expect our partners to as well", the spokesman said.

She added she was writing to all United Kingdom charities which receive United Kingdom aid asking them to spell out the steps they are taking to ensure safeguarding policies are in place and working properly.

The Charity Commission said on Saturday that it had written to Oxfam "as a matter of urgency" to request further information.

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And the Guardian reported new accusations over the weekend: that the same man, Roland van Hauwermeiren, was also accused of hiring sex workers in Chad.

The French charity told AFP it made pre-employment checks with Oxfam but that the UK-based organisation failed to pass on details of his transgressions.

Oxfam has denied any cover-up.

But she said: "Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop individuals falsifying references, getting others that were dismissed to act as referees and claiming it was a reference from Oxfam, or former or current Oxfam staff that worked with the individual providing a reference in a personal capacity".

"In the 21st century, it is utterly despicable that sexual exploitation and abuse continues to exist in the aid sector", she sad.

Ms Mordaunt said Oxfam had done "absolutely the wrong thing" by failing to inform authorities about the full details of the allegations.

'What I'm apologising for is that nine Oxfam staff behaved in a way that was totally unacceptable and contrary to our values, and that led much more responsible staff to make decisions which are now seen by some as being marginal or inappropriate.

"The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 is an example of a wider issue on which DfID (Department for International Development) is already taking action, both at home and with the international community via the United Nations".

"I think we should have been open that there was sexual misconduct and that involved the use of prostitutes", he said.