Oxfam boss sorry for baby comments

Updated 2018-02-22 13:52:03 China Daily

The boss of the United Kingdom-based charity Oxfam GB has apologized for downplaying abuse accusations leveled at his organization.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of the disaster relief specialists, spoke on Tuesday before a UK parliamentary committee after being quoted in Saturday's Guardian newspaper as saying: "The intensity and ferocity of the attacks makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? ... (it) feels out of proportion to the level of culpability."

He made the comments in response to criticism following allegations that the charity's aid workers had used prostitutes in Haiti in the aftermath of a 2010 earthquake.

Xinhua News Agency said Goldring, who became CEO of Oxfam GB in 2013, told MPs on Tuesday: "I should not have said those things. It is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality or motivation. I wholeheartedly apologize for those comments."

He said the charity is now investigating an additional 26 cases of alleged misconduct reported since the original scandal broke this month.

The parliamentary committee he appeared before oversees the UK government's distribution of aid.

At the two-hour hearing, he apologized for the actions of staff in 2011, and for the internal investigation held at the time.

Opposition Labour politician and international development committee chair Stephen Twigg said the committee will conduct a full inquiry.

Reuters reported that both Britain and the European Union are reviewing their financial support of aid organizations in the wake of the scandal.

ITV News reported Goldring told the committee 7,000 people canceled their financial donations to the charity in the preceding 10 days, while corporate sponsors appeared to be "reserving judgment".

Frustration

Britain's Metro newspaper said the UK's international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, was frustrated with Oxfam and its then-chief executive, Barbara Stocking, and program director, Penny Lawrence. Mordaunt said they may have misled regulators and donors in 2011.

"I believe their motivation appears to be the protection of their organization's reputation," Mordaunt told parliament.

"They put that before those they were there to help and protect."

Lawrence resigned last week.

Goldring also criticized his predecessors.

"If we were culpable, which we were, they should have been completely transparent," he told the committee. "What Oxfam did in 2011 in Haiti was wrong," he said.

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