Oxfam has been accused of covering up for senior aid workers, who allegedly used prostitutes while working in earthquake-hit Haiti.
According to a 2011 report seen by The Times, Oxfam allowed three men to resign from their positions and sacked four male employees for gross misconduct, after they launched an inquiry into sexual exploitation, bullying and intimidation.
The newspaper revealed one of the men who was granted resignation without disciplinary action was the charity’s country director in Haiti, Roland van Hauwermeiren.
According to the report, he admitted to using prostitutes at the property rented for him by Oxfam with charitable funds.
The incidents, which allegedly took place shortly after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, were raised by a whistle-blower who claimed the men had partaken in “sex parties” at the residence.
Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, and the minimum age of consent is 18 years old. However, it was also alleged that the prostitutes may have been underage.
Oxfam subsequently launched an inquiry into the allegations, which also included the downloading of pornography, and noted there was a “culture of impunity”, that meant other members of staff didn’t feel they were able to speak up about the inappropriate incidents.
The charity has since been accused of helping to cover up the scandal by allowing Hauwermeiren to resign before the investigation had closed.
The earthquake took place in Port-au-Prince in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands of people and injuring even more. A number of charities, including Oxfam, rushed to the Caribbean country to offer support to victims and the 1.5 million who had been left homeless.
The article published today in The Times about Haiti reveals totally unacceptable behavior. We are deeply distressed by what happened. We are doing all we can to protect vulnerable people in our communities, our staff, and to prevent sexual abuse & exploitation.— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) February 9, 2018