Oxfam is investigating new claims that its staff used prostitutes and made death threats in Congo

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Oxfam investigates new claims that its staff used prostitutes, made death threats and committed fraud in Congo

  • The charity suspended two aid workers last week and ordered an investigation
  • These are allegations against senior managers in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • The probe concerns ‘allegations of intimidation, death threats, fraud and cronyism’
  • Whistleblowers say they have raised concerns about alleged misconduct since 2015

Oxfam is under investigation over new allegations of sexual exploitation just weeks after it was approved to re-apply for government aid following the Haiti scandal.

The charity suspended two aid workers last week and commissioned an independent investigation into allegations against senior executives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), The Times reported.

The investigation, which began last November, reportedly concerns allegations of intimidation, death threats, fraud and nepotism.

But whistleblowers have said they raised concerns about the alleged misconduct as far back as 2015.

The charity suspended two aid workers last week and commissioned an independent investigation into allegations against senior executives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), The Times reported (photo file)

The charity suspended two aid workers last week and commissioned an independent investigation into allegations against senior executives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), The Times reported (photo file)

Oxfam has been active in the DRC since 1961. The charity employs 273 employees who are primarily involved in water and sanitation projects among vulnerable communities.

The latest allegations were written in a ten-page letter sent to the leaders of the Oxford charity in February.

The letter contains various allegations about eleven people and is signed by twenty former and current Oxfam employees.

The letter states, “We hope the DRC does not become another example of Oxfam’s inability to prevent abuse of power following the 2018 Haitian media expose and Oxfam’s explicit commitment to do better.”

Oxfam has been active in the DRC since 1961. The charity employs 273 employees who are mainly involved in water and sanitation projects among vulnerable communities (photo in file)

Oxfam has been active in the DRC since 1961. The charity employs 273 employees who are mainly involved in water and sanitation projects among vulnerable communities (photo in file)

Oxfam has been active in the DRC since 1961. The charity employs 273 employees who are mainly involved in water and sanitation projects among vulnerable communities (photo in file)

In February, Oxfam was released from close scrutiny by the charity watchdog following “sweeping” reforms following the Haiti sexual abuse scandal.

In 2018, it emerged that several Oxfam employees had engaged in ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Four employees were fired for “gross misconduct” and three others, including Haiti charity director Roland Van Hauwermeiren, left the charity.

Oxfam later offered its “humblest apologies” to Haiti.

In the aftermath of the scandal, thousands of people stopped making regular donations to the charity, which was founded in 1942.

Four employees were fired for 'gross misconduct' and three others, including Haiti charity director Roland Van Hauwermeiren (pictured), left the charity

Four employees were fired for 'gross misconduct' and three others, including Haiti charity director Roland Van Hauwermeiren (pictured), left the charity

Four employees were fired for ‘gross misconduct’ and three others, including Haiti charity director Roland Van Hauwermeiren (pictured), left the charity

The State Department said it was aware of Oxfam’s investigation, adding: ‘All organizations providing for UK aid must meet the high safety standards we demand and do everything they can to support the people with whom they work to keep it safe. ‘

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have suspended two Oxfam employees in DRC as part of an ongoing external investigation we launched last November into allegations of abuse of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct.

“We are well aware of our duty to survivors, including by supporting them to speak out safely.”

They added, “We are working hard to complete the investigation fairly, safely and effectively.”

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