OXFAM in Spain has reported over 1,200 subscribers having cancelled their membership and ceased their donations after hearing of the scandal involving aid workers exploiting young women in Haïti following the 2010 earthquake.
The European Union has threatened to withdraw support and the UK government may cease its aid funds to the charity, to the tune of €37.6 million a year.
Oxfam Intermón, the Spanish branch of the global humanitarian organisation, says it had 193,000 members who make regular donations via standing order and another 43,000 who donate ‘now and again’, meaning the percentage of donors who have dropped out is not high, but the charity is worried that the negative impact of the scandal may have only just started.
Although volunteers at Oxfam shops have, in most countries, been instructed not to talk to the press, Oxfam Intermón headquarters has been willing to offer explanations.
A small number of volunteers in Haïti and Chad are known to have used local prostitutes in extremely impoverished areas which had been hit by natural disasters – many of whom were under 18, or children.
Oxfam Intermón says after it had found out about these cases, in-house procedures were put in place to prevent and detect sexual abuse, sexual harassment and exploitation of the charity’s beneficiaries.
Chairman of Oxfam International Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight has resigned after being arrested in Guatemala for corruption when he was finance minister for the country’s president Álvaro Colom, between 2008 and 2012 – another case which has led to Oxfam Intermón Spain losing members.
Oxfam International’s hitherto deputy chair Henrietta Campbell has now taken Knight’s place.