Oxfam suspends Haiti staff on misconduct allegations

08 Aug 2011 12:23

Source: alertnet // Katie Nguyen

A woman raises her arms for products as people loot from a destroyed shop after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 16, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Katie Nguyen

LONDON (AlertNet) – Oxfam has suspended a “small number” of staff working in quake-shattered Haiti due to allegations of misconduct which the British-based charity is investigating, it said on Monday.

Oxfam spokeswoman Jen Corlew said an internal investigation was expected to be completed by the end of the month. However, she was unable to provide details on whether international or local staff were being investigated, how many were involved or what they were alleged to have done.

“What we wanted to do is be accountable and transparent that this is going on, but unfortunately it’s a bit difficult. We’re not able to disclose much information until the investigation is completed,” Corlew told AlertNet.

“At the moment, due to issues of security and reputational risk of individuals it’s not possible to give more (information),” she added.

Last year’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed tens of thousands of people and left 1.5 million people homeless in the Caribbean nation, triggering a massive humanitarian response.

Although hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised to help survivors, more than 600,000 Haitians are still living under tents and tarpaulins some 17 months after the disaster.

Oxfam, which has been in Haiti since 1978, runs development programmes in the country, focusing on improving people’s livelihoods and bolstering civil society groups.

“Oxfam never tolerates misconduct by our aid workers,” Oxfam GB Chief Executive Barbara Stocking said in a statement dated August 5. “We will take forceful and immediate action pending the outcome of the investigation.”

It is not the first time the international charity has had to investigate staff members for alleged wrongdoing.

In 2006, Oxfam was forced to suspend most of its operations in the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh while it investigated the possible theft of tens of thousands of dollars in tsunami funds.

In June this year, it said it had launched a probe after discovering that aid money meant to help Pakistanis hit by last year’s devastating floods may have been misappropriated.

Corruption, mismanagement and diversion of funds or supplies are risks all aid agencies face. However, few groups publicly admit to such problems, often for fear of jeopardising their fundraising efforts.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)


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1 thought on “Oxfam suspends Haiti staff on misconduct allegations

  1. STAFF is a euphemism for COUNTRY DIRECTOR…the big cheese…the boss…the head man, not just some lowly employee.

    The OXFAM Country Director – and some of his associates – was caught in a major theft of funds and material from OXFAM. This does not come as a surprise to Haitians who watch OXFAM’s operations. Their main task seems to be renting cars at about $4200.00 American dollars per months and renting expensive business and living quarters.

    Not much of a surprise to other ONGs who often joke about the lack of any real activity by OXFAM.

    An observer will also note the number of different brands of OXFAM in Haiti. Each is separate from the other, allowing each to operate inefficiently on its own. The is OXFAM CANADA, OXFAM USA, OXFAM UNITED KINGDOM and many others.

    Very inefficient.

    Also prone to major corruption scandals, at least 4 in the last 4 years. OXFAM tries to keep this quiet so as not to upset donors.

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