Authorities opinions work with Oxfam after charity denies…

Ruben Ruiz
February 11, 2018

The UK Government has announced it will review its work with Oxfam following revelations that the charity's staff hired prostitutes during Haiti's 2011 quake relief effort.

"In August 2011, Oxfam made a report to the Commission about an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of misconduct by staff members involved in their Haiti programme".

Reports in the Times revealed sordid details after how staff, including its local director, used prostitutes while they were carrying out emergency work after the devastating natural disaster in Haiti.

The Times's report was based off sources familiar with the organization's work in Haiti around that time as well as a report summarizing an internal Oxfam investigation into the allegations from the time.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, whom Oxfam said was forced to resign as Haiti country director in 2011 after allegedly admitting hiring prostitutes, went on to become head of mission for Action Against Hunger in Bangladesh from 2012 to 2014.

'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.

The Times reported that the organization's inquiry was limited by its desire to keep it out of the public's eye.

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

"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.

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The organization said allegations that some prostitutes were underage were not substantiated. Oxfam has been working in Haiti as part of relief efforts linked to the devastating quake in 2010 which killed more than 200,000 people.

He admitted Oxfam did not give full details of the scandal to the commission in 2011 but insisted it "did anything but cover it up".

In 2011 Oxfam issued a press statement saying that an investigation had been opened, and then another announcing the departure of senior staff.

According to sources cited by The Times, groups of young prostitutes were invited to homes and guesthouses paid for by the charity for sex parties. "It was unbelievable. It was insane", the source told the Times, about parties at the house.

"Oxfam has not and would not provide a positive reference for any of those that were dismissed or resigned as a result of the case".

The Department for International Development is reviewing (DfID) is reviewing its relationship with Oxfam in the wake of sex allegations. And it said it created a whistleblower hotline and a separate team to help better prevent misconduct in the future.

Last night, former International Development Secretary Priti Patel said the charity was guilty of "absolutely scandalous" behaviour, accused Oxfam of showing "astonishing hypocrisy" and should face a criminal investigation. 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'.

There are also conflicting reports over whether Oxfam ever reported the incidents to the Charity Commission as it claimed to have done.

Other reports by GizPress

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