An Oxfam sign above a kiosk in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Picture: REUTERS
An Oxfam sign above a kiosk in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Picture: REUTERS

London — International charity Oxfam is to close 18 of its offices around the world, cutting nearly a third of its workforce, because of financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The anti-poverty group said in a statement late Wednesday that the crisis had forced it to bring forward plans to restructure its international operations that began in 2018.

Lockdown restrictions in a number of countries have seen the non-profit shut shops and cancel fundraising events, hitting revenue.

The belt-tightening comes on the back of already reduced donations after revelations of sexual abuse by some staff in Haiti in 2010.

Oxfam, which is a confederation of about 20 organisations, will shut offices in 18 countries, including in Afghanistan, Haiti, Cuba and Egypt, and axe 1,450 of 5,000 posts. It will maintain a presence in 48 countries.

Oxfam said the streamlining will allow it to better target countries where it can have the most impact.

“We've been planning this for some time but we are now accelerating key decisions in light of the effects of the global pandemic,” said executive director Chema Vera.

“This reorganisation will take time to complete,” he said, adding the charity felt “a deep sense of responsibility” to countries affected.

“We will do everything we can to ensure the people we work with will be able to look to the future with confidence.

“This includes continuing work with partners and allies in countries where there will be no Oxfam office, to support social movements and influence governments and private sector for positive change,” he said.