Harriet Sergeant

Does aid help?

The Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international charities

What a scandal for our times. Oxfam, that upholder of modern-day virtue, unassailable in its righteousness, buried for seven years that its aid workers exploited young girls. The men abused their power to have sex with desperate victims of the Haiti earthquake — the very people they were supposed to protect.

Michelle Russell of the Charity Commission is clear about the deception. ‘We were categorically told by Oxfam; there were no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries. We are very angry and cross about this.’

Nor was this a one-off. Helen Evans, the charity’s global head of safeguarding, begged senior staff, ministers and the Department for International Development to act. She had uncovered sexual abuse allegations both abroad — three in one day — and in Oxfam’s charity shops. Nothing was done.

This is the same Oxfam that recently blamed capitalism for world poverty and set up deck chairs in Trafalgar square to protest against corruption and tax havens. Now the virtue signallers are hoisted on the shard of their own fallibility. Compared with the emerging sins of our aid agencies, tax havens look almost benign.

Sadly Oxfam is not alone. Andrew Macleod, former chief operator of the UN Emerging Coordination Centre, contends paedophiles and ‘-predatory’ sex abusers use the halo of charity work to get close to desperate women and children. ‘You have the impunity to do whatever you want. It is endemic across the aid industry and across the world.’ He warns the infiltration of the aid industry by paedophiles is on the scale of the Catholic church — if not bigger. The difficult truth is that ‘child rape crimes are being inadvertently funded in part by the United Kingdom taxpayer’.

These revelations threaten to extinguish the virtuous glow that has protected the aid industry from scrutiny.

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