Oxfam scandal calls for strict supervision of aid organizations

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/25 23:02:01

After the horrendous sex abuse scandal of British charity Oxfam in Haiti was revealed earlier this month, the organization has come under extreme fire with four of its employees removed and three quitting. And more stories of abuse are coming out of Oxfam's African and Asian outposts. The British government has halted funding to the aid organization set up in 1942.

The scandal has aroused widespread distrust and rage, but more importantly it put the entire charity industry in the limelight. As Haitian President Jovenel Moïse said to Reuters on February 16, Oxfam's sex scandal was only the tip of the iceberg and much broader investigation is needed into aid organizations that came to the country after it was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.

Sex exploitation seems to be no secret now in aid organizations. Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, told the House of Commons International Development Committee in February that sexual exploitation and abuse were a problem across the international aid sector. The aid organization established in the UK in 1919 to promote children's rights is also mired in a sexual harassment scandal.

On the list are also UN peacekeepers. An investigation by the Associated Press found that between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers were reported by the UN. These international organizations have made an enormous contribution to disaster-stricken countries and are heavily depended upon by countries in need.

Oxfam's regional director, Simon Ticehurst, said that some 750,000 Haitians were helped by the organization. However, as struggling countries where these aid organizations operate mostly have weak governments, they can hardly supervise the aid they receive.

This reveals another important question as to who should supervise and manage these organizations. Surely the countries in which the organizations are based and receive funds should step up their monitoring while the media has a significant role to play. Transparency is instrumental in curbing such scandals.

The latest Oxfam scandal was first exposed by the Times of London.

Meanwhile, capable nations and regions need to strengthen their supervision of these organizations. They must provide guarantees that the organizations provide reliable and credible aid services. Western nations in particular need to make efforts in this regard as they are partly responsible for the current problems with aid organizations.

In the meantime, it is highly necessary these organizations be supervised at the international level, which calls for enhanced international cooperation by relevant institutions or even new international watchdogs.

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