Oxfam Ireland pledges to play 'leadership role' in worldwide charity's reform efforts

Liberia was shattered in 2004 after a brutal civil war

The deputy head of Oxfam resigned on Monday over what she said was the British charity's failure to adequately respond to past allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti and Chad.

The new plan comes a week after revelations that Oxfam staff used prostitutes while working on the aid operation following Haiti's devastating 2010 natural disaster.

Oxfam, one of the world's biggest disaster relief organizations, said it investigated the case in 2011 and fired four staff members and allowed three others to resign.

"I'm appointing a high-level, independent commission that will look into our culture and our practices and make recommendations to make us stronger at protecting our people", she told the BBC.

"This week Oxfam's chair Caroline Thomson has given us an unequivocal commitment to co-operating fully with the inquiry to ensure our work progresses thoroughly and speedily and to resolving the issues faced by the charity to restore public trust and confidence in Oxfam".

It follows the news that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had quit his role as an ambassador just days after actress Minnie Driver did the same, criticising Oxfam for what she called "abhorrent mistakes".

Actor Simon Pegg has said he will stand by Oxfam in light of the recent scandal which has engulfed the charity as it would be "wrong" to punish the organisation as a whole.

"What happened in Haiti and afterwards is a stain on Oxfam that will shame us for years, and rightly so", Byanyima said, adding: "From the bottom of my heart I am asking for forgiveness".

The British government on Friday suspended new funding to aid agency Oxfam, which had some staff accused of sexually exploiting people in crisis zones.

"This was with an honourable, mature woman, who was not an quake victim nor a prostitute".

The scandal is a major blow to Oxfam, which relies on public and corporate donations as well as government funding.

In an interview with British daily the Guardian, Mark Goldring again apologised over allegations of sexual abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti, which broke last week and have shaken the whole aid sector.

Its funding from the taxpayer is in doubt after the charity agreed not to bid for fresh money after the scandal.

"In taking these actions I am very aware that there are hundreds of good, courageous and compassionate people working for Oxfam around the world. But I never gave into these advances", he said. "To punish Oxfam, I think, is wrong", he says.

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