Oxfam suspends two aid workers in allegations of sexual exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

A refugee woman in Central Africa brought water to a refugee site in Nudu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on January 21, 2021.

Oxfam has been providing humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1971.

British charity Oxfam has said it has suspended two staff members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of allegations of sexual exploitation and bullying.

Charities said the suspension was part of an “external investigation” set against the allegations last November.

The statement follows the Times report that whistleblowers were “dissatisfied with the length of time it took to complete the investigation.”

Oxfam was hit by a scandal involving Haitian aid workers in 2018.

Charities have been accused of concealing the use of prostitutes by some staff in the country after the 2010 catastrophic earthquake.

Oxfam denied concealment, but apologized for mishandling the scandal, set up an independent committee on working practices, and stopped bidding on UK government funding.

How the Oxfam Scandal in Haiti unfolded

Charity has just recently been allowed to resume government funding applications, The Times reports.

The newspaper says a 10-page letter signed by more than 20 current and former Oxfam staff was sent to the leader of the organization in February.

Whistle blowers said they faced “threats to their lives” in allegations against 11 people, including sexual exploitation, bullying, fraud and nepotism.

Some of the complaints date back to 2015, and the letter stated that the staff “lost confidence in Oxfam’s accountability promise and the principles that Oxfam says it represents.”

In that statement, Oxfam states that the Charity Commission was notified at the beginning of the investigation of the latest allegations and was constantly informed of its progress.

“We are strongly aware of our obligations to survivors, including helping them speak safely,” said the charity. “We are working hard to complete the investigation fairly, safely and effectively.”

Oxfam states on its website that it has been active in the DRC since 1961. “Currently, we are providing clean water, sanitation and emergency food to about 700,000 internally displaced persons, refugees and host communities.”