Oxfam, British Charity, Admits Sexual Misconduct by Workers in Haiti

What the papers say- February 9

What the papers say- February 9

Workers including Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director in Haiti for Britain-based Oxfam until 2011, were allowed to resign without any discipline after their sex parties were discovered, the Times of London reported Friday.

The British newspaper has published that, after natural disaster that devastated Haiti in 2010, a senior office of organization hired young prostitutes.

"Oxfam treats any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously".

The secretary-general of the Belgian branch of Oxfam-Solidarity, Stefaan Declercq, says he is "deeply shocked" by reports in the press on Friday that six members of the humanitarian organization used prostitutes while on mission in Haiti following the 2010 natural disaster.

A confidential report from the investigation in 2011 concluded that children may have been among those abused, a front-page piece of the Times revealed on Friday morning.

In a statement to Varsity, Murray Edwards said that they believed the cover-up allegation was "untrue" and that the Charity Commission was alerted to the incident at the time. The aid workers were there to provide relief after the 2010 Haiti quake.

The report explained that the misconduct related to inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and the intimidation of staff. "The investigation was announced publicly and staff members were suspended pending the outcome".

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"We acknowledge that hundreds of Oxfam staff have done no wrong and work tirelessly for the people they serve, but the handling by the senior team about this investigation and their openness with us and the charity commission showed a lack of judgement".

'We are now engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations.

"We will expect the charity to provide us with assurance that it has learnt lessons from past incidents and is taking all necessary steps to safeguard all who come into contact with it".

The charity said its trustees, the Charity Commission and DFID, as well as other major donors including the EU, WHO and United Nations agencies, were kept informed of the investigation and its outcome. "As soon as we became aware of the allegations in Haiti in 2011 we launched an internal investigation". However, the regulatory body told The Times that it never received the Oxfam inquiry's final report, and that Oxfam "did not detail the precise allegations, nor did it make any indication of potential sexual crimes involving minors".

It also added: "Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven".

The charity said it had allowed Van Hauwermeiren to resign on the basis that he fully cooperated with and supported the investigation.

At the time the organization wrapped its investigation, it issued a news release that did not mention sexual misconduct, the Times reported, saying that some staff had been involved "in a number of instances of misconduct".

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