More than a week after the scandal broke, leaders of Oxfam, one of the United Kingdom’s largest charities, met on Monday with Haitian officials to formally apologize for its staff’s sexual exploitation of earthquake victims.
“Oxfam is grateful to the Haitian government for allowing us the chance now to offer our humblest apologies and to begin explaining ourselves and start the long road ahead of re-establishing trust and partnership,” said Simon Ticehurst, Oxfam’s regional director for Latin America, according to the Guardian.
Oxfam, which has nearly 10,000 staff members in more than 90 countries, faces allegation of a cover-up involving relief workers in Haiti who hired prostitutes in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. The charity admitted to its staff’s misconduct and faces an investigation.
Here’s everything to know:
News of what happened in Haiti hit like a bombshell on Feb. 9 when the London Times broke the story. The article alleged that Oxfam covered up claims that staff used prostitutes—some of whom may have been underage.
Top-level staff implicated
Oxfam’s then-director of operations in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, allegedly used the services of prostitutes at a villa rented by Oxfam.
Oxfam claims that it learned of the misconduct in 2011 and fired four staff members and allowed three others to resign, including Van Hauwermeiren. However, the charity is accused of failing to alert other aid agencies about the dismissed staff. Van Hauwermeiren reportedly moved on to another organization.
The organization’s chief executive resigned over the scandal. Meanwhile, the Charity Commission, the government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales, launched an investigation.
More than 7,000 people have cancelled regular donations to Oxfam, which also receives government funding for projects.