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February 20, 2018 1:06 pm

Oxfam’s Sex Abuse Scandal — and Its Anti-Israel Bigotry

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld

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Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring speaks before the British Parliament’s International Development Committee in London, Feb. 20, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Parliament TV handout.

The misbehavior of employees of the major British charity, Oxfam — part of Oxfam International — has recently made international headlines. The initial information concerned the cover-up of the use of prostitutes by members of Oxfam’s humanitarian mission to Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake there. Oxfam carried out an internal investigation in 2011, which led to the resignation of three staff members — and the dismissal of four employees.

As NGO Monitor has detailed, Oxfam International and its branches in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium have frequently incited against Israel. The way that they politicize their aid activities makes them part-time enemies, not just political opponents.

As such, the misbehavior of part-time enemies should be publicized like that of full-time perpetrators. The flood of misconduct by Oxfam includes withholding from the public the detailed report on the Haiti scandal for seven years. This was a widespread conspiracy. The head of the Dutch sister charity, Oxfam Novib, has admitted to having had access to the report in 2012, and has stated that she shared it with the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the country’s National Accounting Office.

Because it is unlikely that the Oxfam group of charities — even after this scandal — will refrain from maligning Israel, it is important to publicize the essence of what is known so far. A Haitian woman has come forward and said that the Oxfam mission director had sex with her twice a week for money, when she was only 16-years-old. There are also accusations of sexual abuse by members of Oxfam missions in Chad and Southern Sudan. And one of the executives dismissed in 2011 for sex abuse in Haiti was rehired for another mission in Ethiopia by Oxfam.

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The aid workers’ culture was described by a person who worked for Oxfam in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. He said that while people could still smell the bodies in the air, Oxfam had already set up a bar on the roof of its building — and aid workers from all the other aid organizations would flock there to drink the night away.

Oxfam Deputy Chief Executive Penny Lawrence resigned in 2018 — in order to take responsibility for what she already knew in 2011. Another Oxfam executive, Helen Evans, also resigned, saying that there has also been sex abuse in the Oxfam shops in the UK. Under pressure, Oxfam has now published the 2011 report on the Haiti scandal. It mentions that three of the men accused of sexual misconduct physically threatened witnesses during the investigation.

The president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, has said that the Oxfam scandal is the “tip of the iceberg.” He added that other charities should also be investigated for covering up sex abuse in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

And there is a further aspect to this issue. Oxfam has received important grants from the European Union and various governments, including the British one. The UK’s international department secretary, Penny Mordaunt, has reached a deal with Oxfam that it will not bid for new government funding until her department “is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect.”

When Oxfam has sorted out this disgraceful situation, one should hope that other governments make future funds available only if Oxfam reforms itself — and stops publicly inciting against Israel. In past years, several European governments and the EU have — indirectly, through Oxfam — funded hatemongering against Israel.

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