A man claiming to be an aid worker who used prostitutes while posted abroad during the Bosnian War has defended former Oxfam employees sacked for paying sex workers in Haiti and Chad.
The caller, who gave his name only as Steve, told LBC radio show host James O’Brien to judge him and other aid workers by their work, not what they do in their spare time.
The scandal engulfing Oxfam has seen it accused of attempting a cover up of sex parties hosted by some of its employees, who allegedly paid victims of natural disasters to take part. The charity insists it made the revelations public in 2011, and denies any cover up took place.
Steve said people outraged by the scandal should “just start growing up a little bit”.
The caller said he was assigned to work for a major charity in Bosnia by the Overseas Development Administration, now the Department for International Development (DFID), after leaving the military in 1993.
“We used to get an allowance of 300 deutschmarks a week… and I’ve used prostitutes, and at the end of the day they used to hang around the lobbies of the hotels,” he said. “Now I was single, they were willing to do it, what right have you… to criticise people like me?”
“Judge me what I do the next day when I deliver a 1,000 tonnes of grain or food to starving kids,” he added.
He said conditions during the war – a conflict triggered after Bosnia and Herzegovina joined several republics of the former Yugoslavia in declaring independence in 1991 – were so bad women were offering sex to aid workers “for 40 fags”, and that paying them could “keep their families going for several months”.
“You can’t work 24 hours a day, you would go off your rocker,” he said.
He added any charity employee who used underage sex workers should be “banged up for 100 years”.
In the wake of the Oxfam scandal, more than 120 workers from a range of Britain’s leading charities have reportedly been accused of sexual abuse in the past year alone.
New figures collated by the charities revealed that Oxfam recorded 87 allegations of sexual misconduct between April 2016 and March 2017, of which 53 were referred to the police. Save the Children had 31, ten of which were referred to the police, and Christian Aid two.
Oxfam said four members of staff implicated in the Haiti scandal were dismissed. Three, including Roland van Hauwermeiren, who served as the country director, were allowed to resign before the end of an investigation into the allegations.
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A confidential report by the charity, seen by The Times, said there had been “a culture of impunity” among some staff in Haiti.
It also concluded that children may have been among those sexually exploited by aid workers.
The Government has announced it is reviewing all of its work with Oxfam, which receives £300 million a year.
Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, described the news as “shocking” and has threatened to withdraw funding from Oxfam and “any other organisation that has safeguarding issues”.