Oxfam denies 'Haiti prostitutes cover-up' after quake disaster

10 February, 2018, 06:59 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • UN peacekeepers were withdrawn last year after reports of a child sex ring

One of the staffers permitted to resign without effect was Oxfam country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who the report said admitted to keeping prostitutes at the villa rented for him using donated funds.

Paying for prostitutes is illegal in Haiti and goes against Oxfam's code of conduct for worldwide staff.

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

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. The internal report of humanitarian organization, prepared in 2011, "did not rule out existence of minors among exploited", according to British newspaper.

The Times of London, citing people with knowledge of the case, reported that some of the sex workers might have been under 18, an accusation that Oxfam said had not been proven.

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Water sanitation equipment waits to be loaded from Oxfam's logistics warehouse for shipping to Haiti on January 15, 2010 in Bicester, England.

The charity said it launched an investigation "as soon as we became aware of the allegations" in 2011 and "publicly announced" its outcome while keeping trustees, the Charity Commission and the Department for International Development informed.

Director Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, was allowed to resign in August 2011 just a week after an internal investigation was announced.

She said: "We are now engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations".

The Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "The public expects charities to be safe and trusted environments that safeguard those who come into contact with them".

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A statement from Oxfam to the paper said: 'Oxfam treats any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously. When asked the same question in a BBC interview, Barbara Stocking, who was the group's chief executive in 2011, said, "I absolutely disagree that we were not transparent".

Mercy Corps - which handed a job to one of the culprits - said it had received a positive reference from Oxfam in 2015.

"The country director took full responsibility for events that took place under his management and was permitted to resign on the basis that he fully cooperated with and supported the investigation".

"Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop the individuals falsifying references, getting others that were dismissed to act as referees and claiming it was a reference from Oxfam, or former or current Oxfam staff that worked with the individual providing a reference in a personal capacity".

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