Oxfam has been in turmoil since revelations that NGO officials deployed to Haiti after the deadly earthquake in 2010 have hired prostitutes in the country.
The Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, former director in Chad and Haiti for Oxfam, defended Thursday for organizing orgies with young prostitutes in Haiti, rejecting some of the accusations that have placed the NGO in the center of a global scandal.
„I have never entered a brothel, a nightclub or a bar“ in Haiti, says the 68-year-old Belgian, in a four-page letter made public on the website of Belgian private television VTM Nieuws.
„There have been many attempts by men and women to come into my home with all kinds of excuses for money, to demand a job, or to offer sexual services, but I have never given in. their advances, „he says.
The former head of Oxfam admits, however, in an internal investigation led by the British NGO, „to have had intimate contacts three times at home“.
„It was with an honorable and mature lady, not a victim of an earthquake, nor a prostitute, and I never gave her any money,“ he says, adding, however, „deeply ashamed of it.“ „.
Oxfam has been in turmoil since revelations that NGO officials deployed to Haiti after the deadly earthquake in 2010 have hired prostitutes in the country. Several of the organization’s employees are also accused of rape during humanitarian missions in South Sudan and sexual abuse in Liberia.
Several employees of Oxfam are also accused of rape during humanitarian missions in South Sudan and sexual abuse in Liberia.
The management of the powerful British-based organization is accused of knowingly concealing the scandal and allowing the offending employees to join other NGOs without warning.
In statements to the Flemish daily Het Nieuwsblad, published on Thursday, van Hauwermeiren said some of the charges against him were „exaggerated“.
Roland van Hauwermeiren had been the subject of a sexual abuse complaint since 2004 when he was working in Liberia for the British NGO Merlin. After Oxfam, he had joined the French NGO Action contre la faim in Bangladesh, the latter deploring not having been warned.
– Investigation in Haiti –
The Haitian government announced on Thursday that it will launch an investigation to shed light on the charges against Oxfam. It is about „finding the leaders, those involved in this case“ and to ensure that the culprits „are punished in accordance with justice,“ said the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Rodrigue.
Oxfam’s representatives in Haiti were summoned by the Haitian authorities on Thursday, but the meeting was finally postponed until next week, for reasons of agenda.
For Rodrigue – who, like all the country’s officials, discovered the facts in the press – Oxfam breached its obligations by failing to inform the authorities in Port-au-Prince.
The scandal reverberated on Thursday in South Africa, where former Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced Thursday that he was renouncing his role as Oxfam’s ambassador. In a statement, Bishop Tutu said he was „deeply disappointed by accusations of immorality and possible criminal behavior involving humanitarian workers“ linked to the NGO.
He is also „saddened by the impact of these allegations on thousands of people supporting Oxfam’s good causes“.
Desmond Tutu at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, April 23, 2014
Desmond Tutu joins two other celebrities who have announced that they are renouncing their role as „ambassador“ Oxfam: the British actress and singer Minnie Driver and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal.
The controversy around Oxfam splashes the entire humanitarian sector: Wednesday, the NGO Doctors Without Borders had unveiled to have identified 24 cases of harassment or sexual abuse within it in 2017, a count of which she admitted herself that he was undoubtedly undervalued.