SEAN BLACKMAN: We cannot end international aid because of a few rotten apples

Our regular contributor looks at the sex scandal controversy surrounding international aid agencies.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 8:22 am
Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, says funding could be withdrawn from Oxfam and other aid organisations if they do not tackle sexual exploitation Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – during this current crisis with Oxfam this old expression is particularly applicable.

It is applicable because of the knee-jerk reaction that has occurred which, if it gets any worse, could cause a great deal of damage to the many other organisations which do a great deal of good around the world.

Revelations that Oxfam’s aid workers hired prostitutes for sex parties in Haiti while caring for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake has rightly caused worldwide revulsion.

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This sense of revulsion has grown in the light of further revelations both to do with the likelihood that some of these prostitutes were underage and that the subsequent cover-up by Oxfam enabled those who perpetrated such actions to get away scot-free – with the possibility that further crimes may have been committed.

Response to the Oxfam scandal has been swift. Minnie Driver, the Hollywood actress, has resigned her role as ambassador for Oxfam. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has resigned as a global Oxfam ambassador and in one week more than 7,000 people stopped making regular donations.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, has accused Oxfam of betraying victims’ trust and questioned whether the government should continue to give £32m each year to Oxfam.

It would cause a huge dent in the charity’s £100m budget.

Ironically, those who are most likely to be affected are those who need the aid the most. Oxfam work on a number of issues – feeding the hungry, bringing clean water to communities, providing affordable health care and education, empowering women and supporting human rights.

They provide emergency aid following catastrophes such as earthquakes. They also work to reduce the impact of global warming both now and in the future.

A plan needs to be put in place to address the failings of the past, the problems of the present and the safety and security of the future.

For aid to end now, hope to millions of people across the globe could be taken away – with the impact felt by future generations to come.

It is said that one bad apple spoils the barrel. The key is to ensure the bad apples are removed. The villains must be prosecuted while protecting the innocent.