Oxfam sacked Haiti chief following allegations of “mismanagement”

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Oxfam sacked its country director in Haiti last year following allegations of “mismanagement” and “inappropriate behaviour”, the charity said.

Damien Berrendorf, who served as the Oxfam’s country director in Haiti from 2012 to 2017, was dismissed after the allegations were reported through the charity’s own whistleblowing line.

The statement added Mr Berrendorf’s dismissal was “not related to sexual misconduct” and was “not connected to the case in 2011”, when Oxfam staff were accused of using prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti.

The charity said : “He was dismissed in 2017 for mismanagement. The dismissal was not related to sexual misconduct and was not connected to the case in 2011, however, there were allegations of inappropriate behaviour.“

“As soon as the allegations were reported via Oxfam’s whistleblowing line, they were investigated and the individual was dismissed.”

It comes as Catholic charity CAFOD also sacked a former Oxfam employee on Wednesday.

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis said he would continue to support the charity (Claire Hayhurst/PA)
Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis said he would continue to support the charity (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

Meanwhile, Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis said he would continue to support the charity.

Speaking at the NME Awards, he told the Press Association: “We’ve raised millions through the years with Oxfam – six million quid and everyone’s said what a wonderful charity they are and we still support them.

“And for a few dodgy people – like with the NHS you get a few dodgy doctors and it doesn’t discredit the NHS does it. So why should it affect Oxfam?”

And former ambassador Livia Firth, the wife of actor Colin, urged Oxfam to address the abuse but continue its relief work.

She said: “It is appalling to hear the news of the men that have abused the people they were there to help. It’s a betrayal of all who put their faith in them: those who most needed their help.

“I still believe that such programmes are necessary. It would be a tragedy to see this relief work and advocacy stopped. For its part Oxfam must address this abuse diligently and transparently.

“Oxfam must do everything in its power to heal the damage to those who depend on both its work and the good faith and generosity of its supporters.”

During Barbara Stocking’s tenure, I became an active Oxfam ambassador. Through the organisation I gained insight into a co-ordinated way to help people in disastrous situations. I learned about Fair Trade and women’s empowerment through a number of programmes, including one focusing on the eradication of domestic violence in Bangladesh. The people from Oxfam, who I have travelled with and met in various countries since my first trip to Ethiopia in1997, inspired me with their passion, courage, integrity and compassion. What they were doing struck me as difficult, but vitally important work. I could see that they gave scrupulous thought to how to help and empower the world’s most vulnerable people. It is appalling to hear the news of the men that have abused the people they were there to help. It’s a betrayal of all who put their faith in them: those who most needed their help. Also, those who supported them in good faith. The failure to deal with it adequately has further undermined that trust. Although I am no longer an active ambassador, my name remained on the Oxfam website because I wanted to show gratitude and support for what they try to do. I still believe that such programmes are necessary. It would be a tragedy to see this relief work and advocacy stopped. For its part Oxfam must address this abuse diligently and transparently. Oxfam must do everything in its power to heal the damage to those who depend on both its work and the good faith and generosity of its supporters. I will not be making any further comments on this.

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Earlier, Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, accused the charity of failing to show moral leadership by not properly informing donors about the actions of its workers.

The charity has been accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.

Oxfam’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence has resigned, while the Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into the organisation.

Ms Mordaunt said:  “No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.”

Oxfam sex allegations
Penny Mordaunt, who is due to pledge £5 million of Government funding to help protect vulnerable children across the globe following allegations of sexual abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti.

The minister, who said a culture change is needed, is due to meet the National Crime Agency on Thursday after talks with charity bosses, regulators and experts in recent days.

Oxfam officials also met the Charity Commission on Wednesday after the regulator launched a statutory inquiry.

Oxfam received £31.7 million in taxpayer funding in 2016/17.

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