Oxfam suspended from UK funding amid new misconduct claims

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Oxfam has been suspended from accessing UK aid funding again after new allegations of sexual exploitation and bullying emerged.

Last week it confirmed that two members of Oxfam staff working in the Democratic Republic of Congo had been suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into abuses of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct.

In 2018, Oxfam and several other charities including Save the Children were engulfed in a worldwide scandal involving sexual abuse, witness intimidation and staff bullying.

Also of concern was the fact that UK charity workers accused of misconduct were able to move from job to job undetected. This prompted the creation of a data-sharing scheme that allows charities to share information about staff issues, which Oxfam has signed up to.

According to the Times, whistleblowers have felt “frustrated” at the speed of the investigations at Oxfam. In a letter sent to charity bosses in February, current and former staff made allegations of sexual exploitation, bullying, fraud and nepotism against 11 people. Some complaints dated back to 2015.

Oxfam had only been allowed to start reapplying for aid funding in March, after it served a three-year ban following the 2018 scandal. However, in response to the latest allegations, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said the charity would not be able to make applications for UK aid money until the investigation into the new allegations had been resolved.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of our duty to survivors, including in supporting them to speak out safely. We are working hard to conclude the investigation fairly, safely and effectively.

“The steps we are taking in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflect our commitment to tackle abuses of power. We are aware of the FCDO statement and are seeking further information. The Charity Commission and FCDO have been notified appropriately and we will continue to keep them informed as the investigation concludes its work.”

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