UK Charity Oxfam Faces Fresh Claims of Sex Abuse in South Sudan

British charity Oxfam is facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct in war-torn South Sudan.

The organization is reeling after reports alleged it covered up the results of its own investigation into sex abuse by some of its senior staff in Haiti, where the charity engaged in a disaster relief operation in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The disaster killed at least 220,000 people and injured more than 300,000.

At the time, Oxfam released a report on its internal enquiry, but did not disclose details. The extent of the abuses only surfaced on Friday (February 9), following an investigation by the Times, which culminated with the resignation of Oxfam Deputy Chief Executive, Penny Lawrence.

Helen Evans, former global head of safeguarding at the NGO, has now claimed that at least seven percent of staff in South Sudan - four people - witnessed or experienced rape or attempted rape involving colleagues.

Oxfam
The logo on the front of an Oxfam bookshop is photographed in Glasgow on February 10, 2018. The British Government announced late on February 9 it was reviewing all work with Oxfam amid revelations the charity's staff hired prostitutes in Haiti during a 2011 relief effort on the earthquake-hit island. ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Evans claimed she escalated the matter to senior leadership, who declined to take things further.

"There was one of a woman being coerced to have sex in a humanitarian response by another aid worker, another case where a woman had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid, and another one where it had come to our attention where a member of staff had been struck off for sexual abuse and hadn't disclosed that," she told Channel 4 News.

Evans added that she then received three new allegations in one single day in February 2015.

She also claimed that episodes of sexual harassment also occurred in Oxfam shops in the U.K. One case, involving an adult volunteer who assaulted a child, went to court.

Evans also accused the Home Office, Department for International Development (DfiD) officials and the Charity Commission, which regulates registered charities in England and Wales, of not investigating the claims when she had informed them.

Earlier this week, former development secretary Priti Patel, who resigned last year, said that the Oxfam sex scandal in Haiti was the "tip of the iceberg" and people in the department knew about the allegations.

New development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, defended DfiD and said she first heard of the Haiti allegations following the Times investigation.

Oxfam has also faced allegations that prostitutes were used by its staff in Chad in 2006.

The charity has denied claims it covered up its investigation. Ahead of a meeting with U.K. government officials this week, the NGO issued a statement in which it committed to strengthening efforts to prevent and handle sexual abuse cases.

"It is now clear that these allegations—involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behaviour of both the Country Director and members of his team in Chad—were raised before he moved to Haiti," Lawrence said when she resigned.

"As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility. I am desperately sorry for the harm and distress that this has caused to Oxfam's supporters, the wider development sector and most of all the vulnerable people who trusted us."