Britain

Oxfam Haiti scandal boss quit previous charity job over sex party claims

oxfam-haiti-scandal-boss-quit-previous-charity-job-over-sex-party-claims

Nicole Morley

Oxfam Haiti scandal boss quit previous charity job over sex party claims
Roland Van Hauwermeiren resigned from a previous role after an investigation into sexual misconduct

The boss at the centre of the Oxfam scandal resigned from a previous position in the charity sector after allegations he attended sex parties with young and vulnerable women in Liberia.

A whistleblower said she became so concerned about the behaviour of Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, she informed company superiors.

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Former aid worker Amira Malik Miller said he resigned from Merlin, a British emergency relief organisation, in 2004 after an investigation revealed that senior staff had been sleeping with local sex workers.

Following news that Oxfam staff were accused of sexual misconduct, including allegations they paid vulnerable women for sex in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, Ms Miller said: ‘Oh my God, he’s been doing this for years.’

She told IRIN: ‘He just goes around the system… from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti to Bangladesh. Someone should have checked properly.’

Oxfam Haiti scandal boss quit previous charity job over sex party claims
Oxfam staff allegedly paid vulnerable women for sex while carrying out aid work in Haiti (Picture: Reuters)

While he resigned, van Hauwermeiren denied the claims. Ms Miller said she was satisfied by the way the charity acted on her complaint.

Following Oxfam’s sexual misconduct scandal, the government is expected to tell aid agencies that funding will be withdrawn if they cannot show they are preventing abuse by staff.

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Oxfam has neither confirmed nor denied that specific account but has said an internal investigation in 2011 had confirmed sexual misconduct had occurred and has apologised.

‘Unless you safeguard everyone your organisation comes into contact with, including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers – we will not fund you,’ Britain’s development secretary Penny Mordaunt will say, according to excerpts of a speech she is due to give at a gathering of development agencies in Stockholm.

‘Unless you create a culture that prioritises the safety of vulnerable people and ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear – we will not work with you.’

‘Unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation – we cannot be partners.’

Oxfam Haiti scandal boss quit previous charity job over sex party claims
Penny Mordaunt will threaten to remove funding if aid agencies do not take sexual harassment seriously (Picture: PA)

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On Monday the deputy head of Oxfam resigned over what she said was the charity’s failure to respond adequately to the allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Chad as well as in Haiti.

Oxfam faced fresh pressure on Tuesday after a former senior member of staff said her concerns about ‘a culture of sexual abuse’ were not taken seriously by the charity’s bosses.

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Mordaunt has previously threatened to withdraw government funding from Oxfam unless it gave the full facts about events in Haiti.

Oxfam receives around 32 million pounds of British government funding a year.

She has also called on all British charities active outside the country to provide moral leadership and transparency about their operations.

Only five out of 10 global aid agencies were willing to disclose the extent of sex abuse by their staff in a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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