Oxfam has admitted it knew about a Save the Children report from a decade ago that suggested “significant” abuse was being carried out by aid workers overseas.
The 2008 report surfaced on Friday following a series of allegations this month where Oxfam’s workers have been accused of using prostitutes in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
The Save The Children report did not implicate any specific organisation by name.
The charity found children in Haiti, southern Sudan and the Ivory Coast were being coerced into sex, forced into sexual slavery, and being offered food in return for performing sex acts, with a 15-year-old girl offered the equivalent of £2 and some chocolate to perform a sex act on “a couple of humanitarian men”.
More than 340 people were spoken to in total, revealing “inadequate” safeguarding against “significant levels of abuse of boys and girls”, much of which was inflicted during emergencies and went unreported.
:: Oxfam re-hired man fired over sex misconduct claim
:: Oxfam’s shamed ex-Haiti chief hits back at ‘lies’
Responding to the emergence of the report, a spokesman for Oxfam told Sky News the charity knew about the concerns raised, but that measures put in place to address the situation were “insufficient”.
“As a result of the Save the Children report, a senior member of Oxfam staff visited Haiti to assess the situation for himself and measures were put in place,” they said.
“However, these measures proved insufficient and could have been compromised by staff who were later investigated by Oxfam and found guilty of misconduct.”
:: Oxfam ambassador Livia Firth speaks of ‘betrayal’
:: Opinion: Oxfam has proved we can’t trust them
The report – which uncovered “every kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation imaginable” – found that children were fearful of telling anyone about what was happening because they thought they might lose out on future aid.
Save the Children recommended the establishment of a global watchdog to evaluate how agencies tackled abuse, including the launch of an effective complaints procedure.
The report came to light just hours after Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring bemoaned the “scale and intensity” of the criticism the charity had received over the scandal.
:: Aid worker: ‘I was raped by a fellow humanitarian’
:: Charity boss urges victims to come forward
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Goldring reiterated his apology for the charity’s failings, but accused critics of “gunning” for his organisation.
He said: “The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability.”
Mr Goldring’s comments sparked a backlash online, with observers accusing him of an “utter lack of self-awareness” and “staggering insensitivity”.
Baroness Nicholson, who founded and runs the AMAR Foundation – which helps war-ravaged communities in the Middle East to rebuild – told Sky News the scandal was evidence that charities like Oxfam needed to be monitored.
:: Do we spend too much on foreign aid?
:: ‘Why we should support Oxfam’
“Without monitoring, aid agencies will inevitably go mad and that’s what happened,” she said.
“So it’s a root and branch reform of this whole aid institution exercise. It’s become an industry instead of something that really minds about each individual child.
Since the allegations came to light, Oxfam has issued an “unreserved apology” to the Government, donors, supporters and the people of Haiti over its handling of the claims, and agreed to stop bidding for Government funding.
Oxfam ambassadors Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actress Minnie Driver have since quit their roles with the charity following the scandal.