Oxfam chief apologises for 'babies in cots' comment as more abuse reported

  • Oxfam chief apologises for 'babies in cots' comment as more abuse reported

Oxfam chief apologises for 'babies in cots' comment as more abuse reported

Oxfam revealed Tuesday it was investigating 26 new cases of sexual misconduct since the crisis erupted over its handling of a 2011 prostitution scandal in Haiti, which the British charity called a "wake-up call".

Mark Goldring said that the scandal had led to 7,000 people cancelling regular donations to the development charity while corporate sponsors appeared to be reserving judgement on whether to pull their support.

LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Oxfam's chief executive apologised on Tuesday for saying a wave of condemnation over sex abuse by the charity's staff was disproportionate as it had not "murdered babies in their cots" in a scandal that has prompted new reports of abuse.

"I wholeheartedly apologise for those comments and commit to work in that greater public interest so that Oxfam can make a powerful role in the world that we all believe in", he said. "We murdered babies in their cots?" "They range in time frame from more recent events to long historic events where people did not report them at the time", Mr Goldring said.

Van Hauwermeiren said last week that months before the formal investigation, he had already forced two other workers in Haiti to resign because they had hired prostitutes.

Three staff members are alleged to have "physically threatened and intimidated" a witness during the investigation.

In 2011, Oxfam announced that it had found misconduct by some staff members in Haiti but did not reveal any details, and the statement drew little attention.

Committee chairman Stephen Twigg said his committee would conduct a full inquiry into sexual misconduct in the aid sector in the wake of the scandal.

Goldring said the allegations would spur Oxfam to do better in the future.

It is not known if he was one of the suspects accused of threatening witnesses.

Van Hauwermeiren says he told Oxfam he had "intimate relations" three times at his house with "an honourable, mature woman, who was not an quake victim nor a prostitute. You are dealing with these women and girls as if they are just trinkets and you can pay for them, give them a bit of aid, and that's OK". "We know now that that was not enough", Goldberg told MPs. "The security guards, the drivers were talking about it not directly - indirectly - because if they talked to anyone about it they would lose their jobs".

His appearance in front of MPs, alongside the chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson, and Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, comes after the charity issued a formal apology to the government of the impoverished Caribbean state.

Latham urged the establishment of an global register for aid workers.

The charity formally also apologised to Haiti on Monday over the scandal and for failing to report the matter adequately.

The Haiti government has threatened to expel the charity following allegations.

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