Timeline: Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal in Haiti

Key events in aftermath of news that Oxfam covered up inquiry into staff paying for sex

A leaked document shows Oxfam must make £16m worth of cuts to jobs and relief programmes as it tries to recover from the fallout over a sexual exploitation scandal involving staff in Haiti. This is how the scandal unfolded.

9 February

Oxfam is accused of covering up an investigation into the hiring of sex workers for orgies by staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which killed thousands. After the investigation the charity allowed three men, including the country director, Roland van Hauwermeiren, to resign, and sacked four for gross misconduct, according to an internal 2011 report seen by the Times.

11 February

Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, threatens to cut government funding to Oxfam unless the charity hands over all information on its workers’ use of sex workers in Haiti. Meanwhile, Oxfam is hit with allegations that employees used sex workers in Chad in 2006, when Van Hauwermeiren was running operations there.

12 February

The Charity Commission launches a statutory inquiry into Oxfam amid concerns it might not have “fully and frankly disclosed” all details about the Haiti allegations. The charity’s deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigns, saying she is “desperately sorry”, as Haiti demands the prosecutions of aid workers identified as using sex workers.

13 February

The actor Minnie Driver, who was one of 16 celebrity patrons for Oxfam, says she is withdrawing her support “in no uncertain terms” after working with the charity for more than 20 years. At the same time, claims emerge that Van Hauwermeiren had been forced out of another British charity seven years earlier after an investigation into the use of sex workers.

15 February

Archbishop Desmond Tutu resigns as an ambassador for Oxfam saying he is “deeply disappointed” by the allegations of “immorality and possible criminality”.

16 February

Mark Goldring, the chief executive of Oxfam GB, claims attacks are “out of proportion to the level of culpability”, and accuses critics of an anti-aid agenda. In contrast, the head of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, warns that what happened in Haiti “is a stain on Oxfam that will shame us for years”.

19 February

Oxfam fulfils a promise to publish its 2011 inquiry into the Haiti sex abuse, which reveals that three staff who were under investigation physically threatened a colleague to ensure that person’s silence. The charity offers its “humblest apologies” to the Haitian government.

20 February

Goldring tells MPs on the international development select committee that the charity has lost 7,000 regular donors since the scandal emerged.

22 February

Haiti announces it is temporarily suspending Oxfam GB’s right to work in the country pending an investigation into how the charity handled the sexual exploitation case. The suspension is intended to last for two months.

17 March

Oxfam is accused of further failures in Haiti by keeping a senior aid worker there for more than a year despite reported sexual harassment claims. According to an internal report seen by the Times, the charity attempted to “contain” allegations against Raphael Mutiku, an engineer who led Oxfam’s installation of water supplies after the earthquake. Oxfam confirms the decision not to dismiss Mutiku was made by Van Hauwermeiren.

16 May

Goldring announces he is to stand down as chief executive at the end of the year, citing the scandal and the need for “fresh vision and energy” at the charity. “We are now laying strong foundations for recovery,” he says.

14 June

Haiti announces it is withdrawing Oxfam GB’s right to operate in the country “for violation of Haitian law and serious violation of the principle of the dignity of the human beings”.


Damien Gayle

The GuardianTramp

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