Oxfam sacked Haiti chief following allegations of "mismanagement"

Ebony Scott
February 17, 2018

Roland Van Hauwermeiren, the former Belgian Oxfam worker who left his job after he was accused of using sex workers whilst responding to the Haiti natural disaster, has spoken out for the first time.

"A lot of people, including the global media, will be blushing when they hear my version of the facts", the 68-year-old told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, which visited him at his apartment on the Belgian coast.

"There are things that are correctly described".

On Thursday‚ the ex-director at the centre of the scandal‚ Roland van Hauwermeiren‚ admitted some of the claims were true‚ but that there were lies and exaggerations.

"Parties every week? Fancy villas?"

When she saw an initial report about Van Hauwermeiren in The Times newspaper last week, she remembered thinking: "Oh my God, he's been doing this for 14 years".

A spokesperson for Oxfam said the company was "saddened" by her decision to step down but that they respected her wishes.

Damien Berrendorf, who served as Oxfam's country director in Haiti from 2012 to 2017, was dismissed after the allegations were reported through the charity's own whistleblowing line.

He added: "Now everything is exaggerated and that hurts, especially because my family does not want to see me anymore".

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The charity, which is headquartered in Geneva, said it had received a total of 146 complaints in one year, 40 of which involved harassment or abuse. "What I see appearing everywhere is hard to bear".

The dismissal was "not related to sexual misconduct", the charity said.

Glastonbury has had a long history with Oxfam-with the charity featuring across their site and on the main stages, alongside the likes of Greenpeace and Water Aid.

A DfID spokesman said: "We often work with organisations in chaotic and hard circumstances".

Van Hauwemeiren has been among a number of employees sacked in 2011 over sexual misconduct while delivering aid to Haiti; but he was re-hired by the same charity in Ethiopia.

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu stepped down as an ambassador for Oxfam on Thursday, citing disappointment at the British aid agency's embroilment in a sex scandal involving staff in Haiti after a massive 2010 quake.

It comes as International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt was due to meet director-general of the National Crime Agency (NCA) Lynne Owens to discuss how they could jointly tackle sexual exploitation and abuse.

Van Hauwermeiren made his comments as it emerged that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) had temporarily suspended funding to a joint project with Oxfam while it examined whether claims made against van Hauwermeiren while he was working for another British agency in Liberia had been properly flagged up.

Other reports by GizPress

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