Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Canada will not pull Oxfam funding after scandal hits charity's British affiliate

Canada will not pull Oxfam funding after scandal hits charity's British affiliate

Minnie Driver has quit her role as an ambassador for British charity Oxfam which is embroiled in a growing prostitution scandal.

The UK-based charity has been in the headlines after reports in the Times newspaper claimed senior staff had hired sex workers in Haiti while delivering aid after the 2010 quake which struck the island nation.

Oxfam executives are also accused of covering up the scandal and the charity is now subject to an inquiry from the U.K.'s Charity Commission.

Driver, 48, travelled to Thailand and Cambodia in her role with Oxfam and performed at a charity concert in London in 2004, joining stars such as Chris Martin, Razorlight and REM.

The prostitution scandal engulfing worldwide aid charity Oxfam is a symptom of a "global problem" in the aid industry, a former senior United Nations aid worker says.

Oxfam - which employs around 5,000 staff and has 23,000 more volunteers - recorded 87 incidents a year ago, referring 53 to the police or authorities and dismissing 20 staff or volunteers, according to the paper.

"As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility", Penny Lawrence said in a statement.

Oxfam has been hit by a series of allegations after it emerged in The Times newspaper that the organisation covered up concerns that senior aid workers in Haiti following the 2011 quake, including country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, had paid vulnerable women and children for sex.

"I have worked with Oxfam nearly exclusively on the rights and plight of women in developing countries".

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Depending on its outcome, the government will decide whether to stop or cut back on money given to Oxfam which in 2016-17 amounted to £31.7 million.

Former aid worker Amira Malik Miller said he resigned from Merlin, a British emergency relief organisation, in 2004 after an investigation revealed that senior staff had been sleeping with local sex workers.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters that Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt was meeting Oxfam representatives on Monday.

Ms Driver tweeted out the Telegraph article, and added further thoughts, writing: "All I can tell you about this bad revelation about Oxfam is that I am devastated".

"Oxfam was more concerned about the charity's reputation than the people who were exploited".

"Sexual abuse and exploitation is an issue the entire development sector needs to confront", Mordaunt said, calling for a culture that "ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear".

"However, the Scottish Government will not hesitate to take appropriate action whenever we suspect that any abuse has occurred, and we expect the same commitment from those working with us".

In a statement, Oxfam said the actress had been a "devoted Oxfam supporter for many years".

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