European Commission will ‘refrain’ from signing new agreements with Oxfam

The Commission was replying to a parliamentary question by MEP Miriam Dalli, about what action it would be taking against the charity in light of allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its aid workers

The European Commission said it would be refraining from entering into any new agreements with Oxfam
The European Commission said it would be refraining from entering into any new agreements with Oxfam

The European Commission has said it will be refraining from concluding any new agreement with Oxfam, except for life-saving operations, over a sexual misconduct scandal that rocked the charity at the start of the year.

Back in February, the Times published a leaked internal report which revealed that several members of staff had been dismissed or allowed to resign over safeguarding breaches, including paying women for sex in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake that killed 220,000 and left millions homeless.

The European Union is a major funding contributor to Oxfam, having given the charity €1.7 million for its intervention in Haiti.

Replying to a parliamentary question by MEP Miriam Dalli, the Commission said that at the start of the year, the departments concerned had requested information from the charity on the facts reported in the media and on the policies it had in place for preventing and reporting such sexual misconduct.

The Commission said it would be assessing information submitted by the charity, “and will determine whether additional steps need to be taken”.

"Meanwhile, the Commission will refrain from concluding any new agreement with Oxfam, except for life-saving operations," the Commission said on Wednesday.

Furthermore the Commission also said it had sought reassurances from all its Framework Partnership Agreement signatories, of which there are over 200, “that all partners and their members have in place measures that ensure zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse and any wrongful conduct that has an impact on the credibility of the contractor”.

“The Commission is assessing the information submitted and is to take effective measures to verify its partners’ compliance with the principle of zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and abuse,” it said.

In fact, a spokesperson for the Commission’s humanitarian arm, ECHO, was quoted last week as saying that of the signatories that had been contacted, the vast majority had given satisfactory responses, while roughly two-thirds had “solid systems” in place.

Those that did not have the necessary frameworks would also risk losing their partnership agreement, the spokesperson said.

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