In the 76 years since Oxfam was first founded, originally to send food to starving women and children in Nazi-occupied Greece, the charity has done great good across the world in alleviating the effects of poverty. However, the organisation’s past work and what it describes as its ongoing mission to create a world where “people are valued and treated equally” exacerbates rather than excuses the growing scandal surrounding it.
The charity is facing mounting criticism over its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct and has denied claims it covered up the use of prostitutes by aid workers in earthquake-torn Haiti in 2011. But while four members of staff were dismissed, three, including the country director, were allowed to resign before the end of the investigation.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has described the events as a “failure of moral leadership” and revealed her Government department, which helps to fund Oxfam, was not told about the events at the time. Full details were also not provided to the Charity Commission.
Alarmingly, there are growing concerns that the Oxfam situation represents the tip of the iceberg of a highly-disturbing problem, with over 120 workers employed by British charities accused of sexual abuse in the last year alone, leading to fears that paedophiles are targeting overseas aid organisations. It is clear that more effective regulation of the sector is urgently required; at present charities set up to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people appear in some cases to be exposing them to greater harm.