Twin Scandals at Oxfam: Haiti Mission Chief Resigns, Pakistani Flood Aid Embezzled

The Oxfam logo stitched on a piece of clothing. Allegations of fraud have rocked the organization's aid operations in Haiti and Pakistan. Photo by: Nuala / CC BY-NC-SA

Allegations of misconduct have rocked Oxfam’s aid operations in Haiti and Pakistan, sites of the world’s largest disasters in 2010.

The scandal in Haiti has now claimed a victim: Roland van Hauwermeiren, Oxfam’s top official there.

Last week, Oxfam GB said it had started a probe into allegations of misconduct against some of its staff in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, but stressed the allegations “are not connected to any incidents of fraud and have not affected the approximately US$98 million Oxfam fundraised” following the Haiti quake.

Citing a statement from Oxfam, BBC reports van Hauwermeiren felt he had to step down because he was in charge when the irregularities took place.

>> Oxfam GB Probes Aid Worker Misconduct in Haiti

In Pakistan, meanwhile, Oxfam has severed financial ties with an aid group where one senior official had reportedly embezzled funds sourced from the U.K. Department for International Development.

The findings were from an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Oxfam hired PwC earlier this year after it found financial irregularities in its flood relief efforts in Pakistan.

The audit indicated the misconduct happened from September 2010 to March 2011, and involved funds for operating expenses, overhead and human resources in two projects managed by the Pirbhat Women’s Development Society. The unnamed senior official was fired in May, the group said, as reported by The Telegraph.

“We feel that our good work and our name has been blackened because of the action of one senior individual who has badly let us down as well as the communities we work with,” the Pirbhat Women’s Development Society said in a statement. “We have already taken steps to tighten up our policies and practices to ensure something like this never happens again.”

Neva Khan, Oxfam GB’s country director in Pakistan, said the organization aims to recoup the money and “continue to ensure that donors’ funds reach the people who need it most.”

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.