One of the biggest charities in the UK struggles to grapple with workers engaged in sexual abuse of vulnerable people in some of the worlds most hard hit areas.

Oxfam is facing a deepening crisis as the British government halts funding to one of the worlds largest charities, over concerns that it tolerated sexual abuse in its Congo mission.

Only last week, Oxfam confirmed that it had suspended two staff members working in the African country as part of an investigation looking into sexual misconduct, bullying and abuse of power.

It has been reported Oxfam knew that its office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was at high risk of sexual exploitation for more than two years and failed to undertake any actions to mitigate the risk.

"The recent allegations of Oxfam aid workers perpetrating acts of sexual exploitation and bullying in the DRC are deeply disturbing," said a UK government spokesperson adding that "Any incidents of [sexual exploitation and abuse] in the aid sector must be properly investigated, and the right support must be given to survivors of these horrendous crimes."

Whistleblowers at Oxfam have decried the working culture at the charity, which often made it dangerous to speak out. 

This, however, is not the first time that Oxfam has found itself in the middle of such accusations.

An investigation in 2018 revealed that the organisation had exploited survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Oxfam employees exploited desperate survivors by offering cash for sex and organising sex parties which may have included underage girls.

The charity was accused of covering up the events, claims it denied. Oxfam carried out a secret internal investigation, which did not come to light for several years and allowed some of the most senior people accused in the investigation to resign before the findings could be completed.

Oxfam did not report its staff member to Haitian authorities believing and allowed staff accused of sexual misconduct a "dignified exit" from the organisation.

Similar revelations emerged that Oxfam workers in Chad used prostitutes routinely in 2006, suggesting that the charity's woes go much deeper.

While Oxfam is the latest to be hit by such a crisis, the problem is more widespread throughout the aid sector.

A report by the Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2018 found that more than 40 global charities had aid workers embroiled in "sexually exploitative relationships with refugee children."

Aid workers operating in some of the most deprived and hard-hit regions of the world were regularly offering what was described as "sex for food" to young vulnerable refugees.

The report, however, is widely believed not to have resulted in a change in culture.

Such exploitative practices in the sector have been described as "endemic." There have also been increasing calls for governments to stop giving money to any charity that hires sexual predators or doesn't have effective safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people. 

Source: TRT World