Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Oxfam condemns staff over Haiti prostitution claims

Priti Patel has called for a criminal investigation of Oxfam workers alleged to have hired prostitutes whilst working in Haiti Priti Patel has called for a criminal investigation of Oxfam workers alleged to have hired prostitutes whilst working in Haiti
Faye Gross | 10 February, 2018, 05:24

An investigation by The Times UK revealed that Oxfam, which receives £300 million ($414 million USA dollars) in British government funds and charitable donations, let three staffers resign and fired four others for gross misconduct after an inquiry into the damning claims.

But in its statement, DFID said the charity had fallen short.

Worldwide efforts to help ease the pain of the January 2010 natural disaster that hit Haiti, which the local government says more than 300,000 people and left more than a million homeless, have been criticized for failing to bring help efficiently.

Country director for Haiti Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, admitted using hookers at the charity's rented villa known as the Eagle's Nest and was allowed to quit, The Times said yesterday.

The charity's inquiry into sexual misconduct from 2011, which investigated sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, and bullying and intimidation, led to the sacking of four men and saw three others allowed to resign after actions which the inquiry said were symptomatic of "a culture of impunity" among aid workers in Haiti.

"After the investigation, we carried out a thorough review of the case which resulted in the creation of our dedicated Safeguarding Team and a confidential 'whistleblowing" hotline as part of a package of measures to ensure that we do all we can to protect our staff, prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place and improve how we handle any allegations'.

Van Hauwermeiren went on to work in Bangladesh for Action Against Hunger.

A DFID spokesman said: "The way this appalling abuse of vulnerable people was dealt with raises serious questions that Oxfam must answer".

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Metro.co.uk has approached Oxfam for further comment.

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

Andrew Mitchell, who was worldwide development secretary in 2011, said DFID "must be sure that there is zero tolerance for this sort of thing".

A Charity Commission spokesman said: '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.

We expect the charity to include in their review incidents that occurred in 2011.

"Our primary aim was always to root out and take action against those involved and we publicly announced, including to media, both the investigation and the action we took as a result". "A contact point has been set up to denounce suspicious behaviour and we have support persons whom staff can contact when they need to".

She said Oxfam often worked in very hard locations "where the rule of law isn't going on".

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