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UK aid chief warns charities after Oxfam sex scandal

AFP  |  London 

Britain warned today it would cut off ties with foreign charities that cover up sex scandals after revelations involving Oxfam, which has seen a spate in cancellations of donations.

"Unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation -- we cannot be partners," Britain's told a conference in Stockholm, according to extracts of her speech released by her ministry.

"The same message goes out to any organisation or partner which receives UK We want procedures to change. We want leaders to lead with moral authority and we want staff to be held accountable," she said.

Mordaunt called allegations about the use of prostitutes by some staff in in 2011 "horrifying". has denied covering up the but admitted it should have been more transparent.

"Sexual abuse and exploitation is an issue the entire development sector needs to confront," Mordaunt said, calling for a culture that "ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear".

When abuse is carried out "by people in positions of power, people we entrust to help and protect, it rightly sickens and disgusts and compels us to take action," she said.

The has led to the resignation of Oxfam's and has thrown into question government funding for the charity, which amounted to around 32 million (36 million euros, $44 million) last year.

A on Wednesday said it had received 1,270 cancellations of donations by direct debit between Saturday and Monday -- compared to a normal monthly average of 600 cancellations.

The allegations revolve around Oxfam's then head of mission in Haiti, Belgian national Roland van Hauwermeiren, whose behaviour had already led to complaints when he worked for the charity in

After resigning from Oxfam, he went on to work for French charity Action Against Hunger in


There were reports on Wednesday that there had already been complaints about van Hauwermeiren and his use of prostitutes when he was working for the British medical charity Merlin in before joining

Swedish former worker told the humanitarian agency that she had made a complaint about him in 2004 when she was working alongside him in

When she saw an initial report about van Hauwermeiren in last week, she remembered thinking: "Oh my God, he's been doing this for 14 years."

"He just goes around the system... from to Chad, to Haiti, to Someone should have checked properly," was quoted as saying.

She said van Hauwermeiren and other staff members were "shameless" and she was suspicious that some of the sex workers had been underage, adding: "They acted like it was the most normal thing in the world".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 14 2018. 20:40 IST
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