Oxfam staff in Chad held ‘sex parties with prostitutes’

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  • Former staff revealed senior member was fired in 2006 amid allegations in Chad
  • Oxfam said it was ‘shocked’ and ‘dismayed’ by the new wave of ‘revelations’
  • Britain’s aid minister said the government would cut aid funding from any charity that did not comply with a new review into their work overseas
  • Penny Mordaunt slammed Oxfam, calling behaviour of staff a ‘complete betrayal’

Alex Green For Mailonline

and
Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

Oxfam staff could be prosecuted for sex crimes in the UK, a former UN chief claimed today as the charity faced new allegations against its staff.  

Andrew MacLeod, the former chief of operations of the UN’s Emergency Coordination Centre, said some offences committed by Britons in disaster zones could be pursued by police in the UK.

The warning came as Oxfam faces fresh allegations of sexual misconduct after former employees based in Chad claimed staff held sex parties attended by prostitutes back in 2006.

Women believed to be sex workers were reportedly invited to the Oxfam team house on a number of occasions and one senior member of staff in Chad was reportedly fired for his behaviour, it is claimed. 

It is just the latest sex scandal to hit the charity, which made headlines last week after it was accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.

Britain’s aid minister has now said the government will cut aid funding from any charity that did not comply with a new review into their work overseas, calling reports of sexual exploitation in the sector ‘utterly despicable.’

Former Oxfam employees  in Chad claimed  staff held sex parties with prostitutes. Pictured: Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa

Former Oxfam employees  in Chad claimed  staff held sex parties with prostitutes. Pictured: Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa

Former Oxfam employees in Chad claimed staff held sex parties with prostitutes. Pictured: Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa

Mr MacLeod told the Today programme: ‘ The impact of sex tourism laws make it unlawful for anybody to have sex with children under the age of 16 anywhere in the world or aid, abet or support that.

‘If they were adults, this man should be charged in front of the courts in Haiti because prostitution is illegal.   

‘If they are children, they should be charged in front of the courts here because he’s broken the sex tourism laws. If they are uncertain, they should pass the dossier to the police for investigation.’

‘Since 1999 the National Crime Authority, or its precursor, have been warning that predatory paedophiles, as we cracked down in the developed world, are now going to the developing world to get access to children.

‘Their chosen methodology is through charity. If we going to wipe out this problem that’s been known about for 30 years, people need to go to jail.’ 

Roland van Hauwermeiren, who has since become embroiled in the sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti, was head of Oxfam in Chad at the time. Van Hauwermeiren resigned from Oxfam in 2011, after admitting that prostitutes had visited his villa in Haiti. 

The allegations echo those made against Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa in the poverty-stricken country of Haiti where he was based as country director. 

Van Hauwermeiren was head of Oxfam in Chad at the time of the alleged sex parties.

‘They would invite women for parties, we knew they weren’t just friends but something else,’ said an anonymous former employee.

‘I have so much respect for Oxfam, they do great work, but this is a sector wide problem’, the former staffer told the Observer. 

The source added staff members did not speak up for fear this might reduce donations to the most vulnerable at a time when funding is under pressure.

Oxfam, one of Britain’s biggest charities, has condemned the behavior of some former staff in Haiti after a newspaper report said aid workers paid for sex while on a mission to help those affected by the 2010 earthquake. 

Winnie Byanyima, who became executive director of Oxfam International in 2013, said she was saddened by what took place in 2010 and that it could not happen under systems and rules put in place since

Winnie Byanyima, who became executive director of Oxfam International in 2013, said she was saddened by what took place in 2010 and that it could not happen under systems and rules put in place since

Winnie Byanyima, who became executive director of Oxfam International in 2013, said she was saddened by what took place in 2010 and that it could not happen under systems and rules put in place since

The executive director of Oxfam International said yesterday that she was heartbroken by the sexual misconduct scandal. 

Winnie Byanyima, who became executive director of Oxfam International in 2013, said she was saddened by what took place in 2010 and that it could not happen under systems and rules put in place since.

‘I feel deeply, deeply hurt. … What happened in Haiti was a few privileged men abusing the very people they were supposed to protect – using the power they had from Oxfam to abuse powerless women. It breaks my heart,’ Byanyima said in an interview with Reuters TV in New York.

‘We want to restore trust. We want to build that trust. We are committing to be honest, to be transparent and to be accountable in addressing this issue of sexual misconduct. We are in a different place today,’ she said. 

Byanyima said charities must stop people who do not share their values from joining their organizations.

‘We need to do more in terms of investigations and sharing the results of those investigations so that offenders don’t go on to offend in other organizations,’ she said.

She said Oxfam would share with the relevant authorities all the information it had relating to the 2010 incident.

‘You know it’s not within our power to return people who are not our staff to Haiti to face prosecution,’ she said. ‘But we will avail everything that we know from the investigation to whoever authority, whichever authority wants to have this. 

A spokesperson for Oxfam said the organisation was deeply shocked by the new allegations, admitting the problem was ‘sector-wide’.

Sex workers were reportedly invited to the Oxfam team house on a number of occasions. Pictured: A Chadian woman at market

Sex workers were reportedly invited to the Oxfam team house on a number of occasions. Pictured: A Chadian woman at market

Sex workers were reportedly invited to the Oxfam team house on a number of occasions. Pictured: A Chadian woman at market

It said it could not confirm whether it had any records about a Chad staff member dismissed in 2006, adding that staff in Chad lived under a strict curfew due to security concerns. 

‘We are shocked and dismayed about the latest revelations from Chad. While we can’t corroborate the information at the moment it highlights again unacceptable behaviour by a small number of people and the need for a sector-wide approach to tackle the problem.

‘Since the Haiti case in 2011 we have introduced a range of measures to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place and improve how we handle any allegations.’

Caroline Thomson, Oxfam’s chairwoman of trustees in the UK, said the charity was ‘ashamed’ of what had happened in Haiti, adding that it prides itself on ‘being a transparent organisation’.

‘It is clear that such behaviour is completely outside our values and should never be tolerated,’ she said.

Chief executive Mark Goldring (pictured) apologised on behalf of the organisation

Chief executive Mark Goldring (pictured) apologised on behalf of the organisation

Chief executive Mark Goldring (pictured) apologised on behalf of the organisation

Ms Thomson said she was working closely with chief executive Mark Goldring to make improvements.

‘We will continue to address the underlying cultural issues that allowed this behaviour to happen,’ she said.

‘We also want to satisfy ourselves that we do now have a culture of openness and transparency and that we fully learn the lessons of events in 2011.’ 

Goldring apologised yesterday and said he was ‘deeply ashamed of Oxfam’s behaviour [in Haiti]’.

He added: ‘Everybody – the 25,000 staff and volunteers – are compromised by this, the hundreds of thousands of people who support Oxfam every month are compromised by this, and to everybody I apologise.

‘What I’m apologising for is that nine Oxfam staff behaved in a way that was totally unacceptable and contrary to our values, and that led much more responsible staff to make decisions which are now seen by some as being marginal or inappropriate.

The boss then refused to apologise for the fact the charity continues to do work in Haiti. 

It comes after it emerged Oxfam failed to share information with other organisations about the misconduct of their former employees.

The charity decided to allow Mr Van Hauwermeiren to step down from his position and crucially didn’t share details of the termination of contract with his new employer.

The married 68-year-old went on to become head of mission for Action Against Hunger who told MailOnline it had ‘no idea’ about his background. 

Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has condemned the behaviour of some Oxfam staff members as a ‘complete betrayal’, as she warned the charity the ‘scandal’ had put its relationship with the Government at risk.

Ms Mordaunt told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show that the failure to pass on information to relevant authorities shows an ‘absolute absence of leadership’.

Asked by Marr if she thought Oxfam had failed in its ‘moral leadership’, the Conservative MP replied: ‘Yes, I do.’

Ms Mordaunt announced she would meet the charity on Monday to discuss the case, and said: ‘If the moral leadership at the top of the organisation is not there then we can not have you as a partner.’

Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt attacked Oxfam, saying it had failed in its 'moral leadership'

Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt attacked Oxfam, saying it had failed in its 'moral leadership'

Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt attacked Oxfam, saying it had failed in its ‘moral leadership’

Charities, including Oxfam, have been told they will have funding withdrawn if they fail to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues.

The Charity Commission said on Saturday that it had written to Oxfam ‘as a matter of urgency’ to request further information.

The regulator said an Oxfam report on the investigation stated there had been no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries and made no mention of any potential sexual crimes involving minors.

‘Our approach to this matter would have been different had the full details that have been reported been disclosed to us at the time,’ it said in a statement.

Ms Mordaunt said the charity had also ‘categorically’ stated to the Department for International Development (DfID) that no harm was done and beneficiaries were not involved.

Marr said: ‘That was a lie, wasn’t it?’

Ms Mordaunt replied: ‘Well, quite.’

She added that Oxfam had done ‘absolutely the wrong thing’ by failing to inform authorities about the full details of the allegations.

In a further warning to the charity, she said: ‘If they do not hand over all the information that they have from their investigation and subsequently to the relevant authorities, including the Charity Commission and prosecuting authorities, then I cannot work with them any more as an aid delivery partner.’ 

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