Oxfam pressed over claims its aid staff in Haiti used prostitutes

10 February, 2018, 09:49 | Author: Bert Pena
  • UK-reviews-Oxfam-work-amid-Haiti-prostitutes-scandal

The Times reported that members of Oxfam, one of the UK's biggest charities, had used prostitutes in Haiti sometime in 2011.

Workers including Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director in Haiti for Britain-based Oxfam until 2011, were allowed to resign without being disciplined, the Times reported Friday.

The staff were based in the country's capital Port-au-Prince in 2010 after a huge natural disaster which killed 220,000 people and left a further 1.5m homeless.

In its statement Friday, Oxfam said that it had informed its trustees, the United Kingdom government's Charity Commission and worldwide development agency, as well as other major donors such as the European Union, the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies of the investigation and the outcome.

The Times of London's investigation, which was published Thursday (local time), also detailed allegations that Oxfam's country director used prostitutes, as part of the raft of misconduct alleged to have occurred while the organisation deployed to help the reeling island nation recover after a devastating 2010 natural disaster.

But according to the leaked report, Mr van Hauwermeiren admitted using prostitutes at the villa Oxfam rented for him in Haiti.

One source told the newspaper there was footage of a "full-on Caligula orgy" with women in Oxfam T-shirts.

They claimed staff had recorded videos of the night, but Oxfam said no recording had been submitted to the investigation.

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In the first wave of humanitarian aid after the quake, Oxfam helped around 700,000 people in the Caribbean country.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said it was engaged with Oxfam on more recent allegations of sexual harassment, reported widely a year ago, and has demanded that the charity provide details of the claims in Haiti. It did, however, state the claims related to abuse of power and bullying and not fraud.

"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".

While Oxfam acknowledged at the time of the staff dismissals that there had been a serious breach of its code of conduct, it reportedly failed to specify sexual misconduct.

The charity said in a statement: "Oxfam treats any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously".

According to the Times' repory, groups of young prostitutes were invited for sex parties in Oxfam-paid homes and hotels. 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".

Stocking was chief executive of Oxfam when the allegations emerged in 2011, during which she said, "Oxfam never tolerates misconduct by our aid workers".

And it said it created a whistleblower hotline and a separate team to help better prevent misconduct in the future.

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