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Who’s going to suffer because of our Oxfam moral outrage?

PUBLISHED: 13:35 26 February 2018

Oxfam: Let's not distract ourselves from the good work it and other charities do. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Oxfam: Let's not distract ourselves from the good work it and other charities do. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

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While we’re fulminating about the bad behaviour of some Oxfam staff, people are starving and dying, says Sharon Griffiths.

I hope that the 7,000 people who cancelled their direct debits to Oxfam have given their money to other good causes instead. Otherwise, who benefits from the moral outrage?

Certainly not the homeless, starving or those dying of treatable diseases.

The behaviour of some Oxfam staff in Haiti is indefensible. If it’s a symptom of something rotten in the organisation then it needs clearing up. And yes, maybe government funding should be withdrawn until it is.

But in the meantime, who helps the helpless?

A BBC interviewer looked triumphant when the director of Oxfam International was unable to guarantee that there would be no other sex scandals in the organisation. Well of course she couldn’t. No more than the BBC can, or parliament itself, or any other organisation that’s staffed by human beings. Until we live in paradise on earth, such things will always happen.

That doesn’t mean we shrug and accept it, or turn a blind eye. Now we know that Oxfam - and other charities – are aware of such happenings we need to know that they are doing their best to make it harder for them to happen again.

Meanwhile, more people have starved. The homeless still lack shelter and sick children are still dying without medicine and treatment.

Despite the abuse, the profligacy and occasional mismanagement, charities still do enormous good in a desperate world. Punish them for their mistakes, yes – but not by punishing those who are already bottom of the heap and need all the help they can get.


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