Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Oxfam pressed over claims its aid staff in Haiti used prostitutes

Oxfam charity 'covered up staff's use of prostitutes' Oxfam pressed over claims its aid staff in Haiti used prostitutes
Glenn Montgomery | 10 February, 2018, 09:48

One of Britain's largest charities is under fire following an investigation into claims of sexual exploitation of underage girls by senior aid workers in Haiti.

Four employees were fired and three others, including Roland van Hauwermeiren, resigned before the end of the internal investigation, said Oxfam.

One source claimed to have seen footage of a "full-on Caligula orgy" with girls in Oxfam T-shirts although this did not form a part of the 2011 report by the charity which did state that "it can not be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were under-aged".

One source told the paper employees organised a "full-on Caligula orgy" filled with girls dressed in Oxfam T-shirts.

"The investigation was announced publicly and staff members were suspended pending the outcome".

In early August 2011, it was reported a "small number" of employees were being investigated over allegations of gross misconduct.

In addition, the Times claims that Oxfam did not warn other humanitarian organizations of the behavior of its employees involved in these activities, which allowed these employees to subsequently obtain missions in different areas with vulnerable people or other areas of natural disasters.

In the wake of the quake that killed 220,000, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless, a confidential report by the charity found that some staff in the besieged Caribbean nation acted in a "culture of impunity". The aid workers were there to provide relief after the 2010 Haiti quake.

Oxfam has been working in Haiti since 1978.

The Times reported on Friday that the government secretary responsible for charity regulation was calling for Oxfam to provide more information about the charity staff who had paid for sex in Haiti.

"The misconduct findings related to offenses including bullying, harassment, intimidation and failure to protect staff as well as sexual misconduct", Oxfam said in its statement Friday.

As part of that, we have already asked the charity to review historic safeguarding allegations and its response to them at the time.

"The behaviour of some members of Oxfam staff uncovered in Haiti in 2011 was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff", it said in its latest statement Friday.

"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".

An Oxfam spokesman said: 'This was not a cover-up. Some of the media coverage is rather unpleasant, accusing the President and Oxfam of "covering-up' sexual misconduct". An unidentified source familiar with the investigation alleged that Oxfam bosses thought it "unnecessary to pursue some of the allegations if we could get enough to simply dismiss the individuals".

"The way in which these shocking abuses of vulnerable people have been handled raises serious questions that Oxfam has to answer", said a spokeswoman for the DFID.

It said that it had not been able to prove allegations that underage girls were involved.

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