PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Aid group Oxfam Great Britain will be suspended from operating in Haiti for the next two months pending an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by its employees, a government official said Thursday.
Haiti is investigating how Oxfam Great Britain responded to reports that some of its staff used prostitutes while working in the country in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake, said Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Aviol Fleurant. It is also trying to determine whether some of the prostitutes may have been underage.
Authorities consider it a “serious crime” for an adult to have sex with anyone under 18, Fleurant said. He said the Haitian government is “shocked at the highest level” about reports of misconduct by employees of the organization.
Oxfam Great Britain is one of four divisions of the international organization working in Haiti. The aid group disclosed that seven workers were fired or resigned in 2011 after a whistleblower accused staff members of misconduct while working in the country. The organization has admitted that some of its employees used sex workers.
British government officials have said Oxfam didn't tell them the allegations included sexual misconduct until Britain's Times newspaper revealed details of the case earlier this month.
Since then, thousands of people have canceled donations to the group in anger.
Oxfam International, the umbrella organization, has apologized to the people of Haiti and said it has created a new plan to improve oversight of its employees.
Oxfam Great Britain contributes about 20 percent of the budget to the organization's overall work in Haiti, and the group expects the suspension will have a “significant impact” on its efforts in the country, the group said in a statement following the announcement.
UNICEF official resigns over allegations
LONDON – A senior official at the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said Thursday he resigned because allegations of inappropriate behavior during an earlier stint at Save The Children risk damaging both organizations.
Deputy executive director Justin Forsyth, who joined UNICEF in 2016, had been investigated at Save the Children UK, where he was chief executive, in 2011 and 2015 after complaints were made by three women. Forsyth, who is British, said he apologized “unreservedly at the time face to face” and “I apologize again.”