Oxfam GB banned from bidding for aid funding less than a month after being reinstated

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office says it will suspend the charity's right to apply for new government funding in the light of allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Oxfam GB's headquarters
Oxfam GB's headquarters

Oxfam GB has been banned from bidding for UK aid funding for a second time following new sexual abuse allegations against two staff members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The charity was told less than a month ago that 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.

The announcement came following the conclusion of a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission in February that put Oxfam GB back on a standard regulatory footing after it found that the charity had made “significant improvements on safeguarding”.

The regulator opened the inquiry into the charity in February 2018 after it emerged that Oxfam GB had failed to adequately report the extent of sexual misconduct allegations by project workers in Haiti.

The charity agreed to withdraw from bidding for government funding at the time.

But it announced over the weekend that it had suspended two staff members in November after The Times newspaper reported claims of abuses of power by senior managers in the DRC.

Asked to respond to the allegations, the government said the latest reports called into question Oxfam GB’s safeguarding standards.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “All organisations bidding for UK aid must meet the high standards of safeguarding required to keep the people they work with safe.

“Given the most recent reports which call into question Oxfam’s ability to meet those standards, we will not consider any new funding to Oxfam until the issues have been resolved.”

An Oxfam spokesperson said the charity was aware of the FCDO statement and was seeking further information. 

“The steps we are taking in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflect our commitment to tackle abuses of power," the spokesperson said. 

"The Charity Commission and FCDO have been notified appropriately and we will continue to keep them informed as the investigation concludes its work.”

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