New misconduct claims levelled against senior Oxfam GB staff in Iraq

Whistleblowers claim concerns were raised by workers in Iraq as far back as 2015

Oxfam GB headquarters
Oxfam GB headquarters

Oxfam GB has been rocked by fresh allegations of misconduct that whistleblowers allege the charity ignored for years before a grievance was raised.

It is the second time in the space of a month allegations have surfaced against the charity’s staff, after it suspended two employees following reports of abuses of power by senior managers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

New reports published in The New Humanitarian yesterday alleged that the charity turned a blind eye to the behaviour of a senior manager for years because that person had been successful at raising donor funds.

Whistleblowers also revealed that individual concerns from workers in Iraq had been raised as far back as 2015, but the organisation made no significant changes, despite a joint grievance filed by the Unite union to Oxfam in July last year. 

The grievance included allegations of repeated bullying, verbal abuse, and threats of dismissal or bad references against employees if they complained. 

Concerns were also raised in an independent commission in June 2019 that the charity should investigate serious allegations against senior staff in Iraq.

The charity said it investigated the 2019 allegations and it has had regular meetings in recent months with those representing the complainants.

An Oxfam spokesperson said:  “We took the concerns raised by staff and shared by the Independent Commission extremely seriously.  We investigate all allegations and take action where they are upheld.  Action can range from dismissal to training to address inappropriate behaviour.  

“In line with best practice, we do not comment on the detail of cases involving allegations of abuse of power. We publish our global safeguarding data every six months including the total and type of allegations as well as action taken on closed, substantiated cases.  

“Providing support for survivors and witnesses is a key priority.  We have introduced steps to ensure they are kept informed as much as possible while meeting our legal and HR responsibilities. “ 

The charity was banned from bidding from UK aid funding earlier this month, following the earlier allegations made against the staff members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That development came only just over a month after that the charity had been told it could resume bidding for aid funding after a three-year pause following a previous inquiry about the reporting of sexual misconduct allegations against project workers in Haiti.

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