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Oxfam chief executive to face MPs over Haiti sex scandal

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The head of Oxfam GB will be questioned by MPs today over the sex scandal that has engulfed the charity.

Mark Goldring will appear before the Commons International Development Committee, along with the chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson, and Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Mr Goldring is the subject of an internal investigation at the charity following a complaint made last month over how senior management had responded to requests to re-open a 2010 case involving allegations of sexual abuse.

If follows the release by Oxfam of an internal report into alleged abuse by aid workers in Haiti which revealed three of the suspects physically threatened or intimidated a witness.


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PM hits out at ‘horrific’ behaviour of Oxfam

The 2011 investigation into the Haiti sex scandal concluded that other charities should be warned about “problem staff”, adding that several of those accused of abuse went on to take up future posts in the aid sector.

It details four dismissals and three resignations in the wake of the allegations, which included using prostitutes on charity property, sexual exploitation of employees, fraud, negligence and nepotism.

Suspicions that some of the sex workers were under-age “cannot be ruled out”, the document said.

Oxfam has also apologised to the Haitian government.


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Oxfam’s shamed ex-Haiti chief Roland van Hauwermeiren hits back at ‘lies’

In a statement it said: “Oxfam is grateful to the Haitian Government for allowing us the chance now to offer our humblest apologies and to begin explaining ourselves and start the long road ahead of re-establishing trust and partnership, given our 40-year history with Haiti and its citizens.

Theresa May described the behaviour of some staff at Oxfam as “horrific”.

“It was far below the standards that we expect for the charities and the NGOs that we’re working with,” she added.

Oxfam officially released the findings after a leaked copy of the report was published by The Times newspaper.

In a statement, it said: “We are making this exceptional publication because we want to be as transparent as possible about the decisions we made during this particular investigation and in recognition of the breach of trust that has been caused.


Broadcaster June Sarpong on the panel of The Pledge



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‘Why we should support Oxfam’

“We hope this also contributes to rebuilding trust with those who support our work.”

The 10-page report alleges that Roland Van Hauwermeiren, director of operations in Haiti, admitted using sex workers in his charity-funded accommodation and was granted a “phased and dignified exit”.

Last week, he denied ever having used prostitutes on the Caribbean island.

Oxfam staff had been stationed on Haiti to provide support following the devastating earthquake in 2010 which killed thousands of people.

A section of the report entitled “lessons learned action plan” called for tighter safeguarding across the charity industry to stop disgraced aid workers from moving to new jobs.

It read: “Need better mechanisms for informing other regions/affiliates/agencies of behavioural issued with staff when they move and to avoid ‘recycling’ poor performers/problem staff.”

Several men at the centre of the allegations subsequently took up roles in aid organisations, including Oxfam.

Mr Van Hauwermeiren took up a senior role at Action Against Hunger in Bangladesh, which has claimed Oxfam made no mention of his alleged conduct in 2011.

Another former staff member was employed by Oxfam as a consultant in Ethiopia months after being sacked, a move described as a “serious error” by the charity last week.

Oxfam faces having its funding threatened and an investigation by the Charity Commission following the revelations.

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Suspected shark attack in Australia as pieces of diving equipment found in search for missing man | World News

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Rescuers trying to track down an Australian man, who went missing while snorkelling, believe he may have been taken by a shark after they found pieces of diving equipment.

The man went missing late on Thursday while snorkelling near Port MacDonnell off Australia’s south coast.

His unexplained disappearance sparked an air and sea search, but this was later scaled back when rescuers pulled a damaged wetsuit and flippers from the water.

Police at the scene
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Search teams have been trying to track the man down

The man has been named as 32-year-old Duncan Craw, according to News.com.au

His family, who spoke to the news site, described him as “extremely hard-working” and “the best father”, saying he had been due to celebrate his 33rd birthday on Saturday.

South Australia Police Limestone Coast operations manager Campbell Hill told ABC that no remains have been found but a shark had been seen in the area the previous day.

“There are a few remaining areas of interest that we are just looking to explore but the information from the experts at this time is that the search I should say, will be scaled down and unfortunately this will become a matter that will become the subject of an investigation report for the coroner,” he said.

If confirmed, it would be Australia’s first recorded shark attack this year.

Last year saw a spike in fatal shark attacks in the country with eight people killed, up from zero the previous year, according to the Taronga Conservation Society.

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COVID-19: Holidays to Spain could be delayed ‘until end of summer’ | World News

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Britons hoping to escape to Spain could have their holiday plans cancelled following reports the Spanish prime minister said the country would not welcome international tourists until the “end of summer”.

Speaking at a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation, Pedro Sanchez reportedly said he did not expect holidaymakers to visit Spain until nearly all of the population has been vaccinated.

He said the country would “progressively” prepare to welcome international tourists once 70% of Spain’s population had been vaccinated, which he expected to be by the end of this summer, local media sites including Euro Weekly News have reported.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated

It will be a blow for the tourism sector, which closed its worst year since the 1970s in 2020 with revenues falling by more than 75%.

Spain reported its highest daily number of coronavirus infections yet on Thursday, recording 44,357 cases.

A further 404 deaths were also reported, taking the country’s total to 55,041 deaths and 2.5 million cases.

Spain is not the only popular holiday destination closing its doors to British tourists, as Portugal has said it will be suspending all flights to and from Britain from Saturday onwards.

Only repatriation flights will be allowed between the two countries, Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference.

British tourists arrive at Gran Canaria airport
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Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists

Meanwhile, the UK itself has “considered” a full closure of its borders.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News ministers were keeping the idea “under review” and “can’t rule anything out for now” – although they believed the current restrictions were “sufficient”.

Asked whether people should be booking foreign holidays for this summer, Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to give an answer and said it was “far too early” to speculate on restrictions.

But some Britons have already begun booking their breaks, with holiday firms saying they had seen a spike in bookings from older people planning trips following the vaccine roll-out.

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‘We need to have a spring and summer season’

The UK’s largest tour operator TUI said half of bookings made so far have been made by over-50s.

Spain ranks among the most popular countries for people planning holidays this year.

A study by travel company Club Med showed it was the fifth most popular destination, behind the Maldives, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.

Earlier, European Union leaders held an online summit to discuss potential coronavirus measures, including further border restrictions.

While a number of EU leaders said they would not rule out border closures, Spain and Greece backed an idea for a common approach to “vaccine passports”.

The system would allow people to travel if they had received the vaccine, although EU diplomats said the measure was premature as it is not yet clear if vaccinated people could still pass on the virus to others.

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China gold mine blast: Trapped workers must wait another two weeks for rescue | World News

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Rescuers trying to free a group of miners trapped hundreds of metres underground have said it may take another 15 days to drill and clear a route wide enough to reach them.

They are desperately trying to bring the workers back to the surface following an explosion at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, in eastern China on 10 January.

A total of 22 miners became trapped after the blast blocked the mine entrance.

Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site
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Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site as part of coronavirus measures

One is confirmed to have died from head injuries. Eleven are known to be alive and rescuers have made contact with 10 of them, while one is said to be in a nearby chamber. The remaining 10 are missing.

Holes have been drilled and used to pass food, medicine and other supplies to the group while they wait.

Rescuers are now drilling a new wider shaft to reach the 10 men in the middle section of the mine – more than 600m from the entrance – which they hope to use to bring the survivors to safety.

The mine shaft is blocked 350m below the surface by 70 tonnes of debris that extends down another 100m, the Yantai city government said in a statement on its social media account.

Other shafts are being drilled for communication and ventilation – to expel deadly fumes.

Rescuers work at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, China, where a group of miners remain trapped underground
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Rescuers say it may take another 15 days to reach the group of miners who remain trapped hundreds of metres underground

About 600 people are involved in the rescue, with as many as 25 ambulances waiting at the scene, as well as neurosurgeons, trauma specialists and psychologists.

Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site and have been taking people’s temperatures as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the incident, the cause of which is still not known.

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