Oxfam Hong Kong says that 715 monthly donors have asked to suspend their pledges after a scandal embroiled the global charity’s UK affiliate. Oxfam revealed that employees had paid sex workers while on an aid mission in Haiti following an earthquake in 2010. Three men accused of sexual misconduct physically threatened witnesses during a 2011 investigation by the anti-poverty NGO.
According to Oxfam Hong Kong, 715 people have called or emailed to suspend monthly donations, which represent an estimated loss of over HK$1 million annually.
Trini Leung, Director General of Oxfam Hong Kong, said on a RTHK radio programme on Wednesday that the donors were people who had supporting them for years. On average, the donors were contributing around HK$100 per month.
“We are very sorry… These donors aside, even we Oxfam staff members were very angry, sad and disappointed,” she said. “We understand our supporters’ reactions.”
She said Oxfam Hong Kong, which was founded in 1976, and Oxfam Great Britain are both affiliates belonging to the international confederation, but they were two independent organisations: “Our relationship is a partnership.”
Leung said Oxfam Hong Kong had a set of guidelines on sexual harassment, which were issued much earlier than other branches.
Oxfam Hong Kong has been responsible for projects in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and mainland China. Around 30 to 40 per cent of donations are transferred to international projects, including those of Oxfam Great Britain.
Leung said individual staff members misbehaved in the incident, and Oxfam Hong Kong will increase monitoring of its staff members, partners and other Oxfam branches.
She added Oxfam Hong Kong has suspended the transfer of funds to project partners and other Oxfam affiliates until relevant regulatory assurances have been made.