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‘Ashamed’, Oxfam Haiti ex-director denies sex allegations

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The former Oxfam official on the coronary heart of a sex abuse scandal stated on Thursday he made errors when working in Haiti however denied paying for sex with prostitutes or abusing minors.

One of the world’s best-known and largest catastrophe aid charities, Oxfam has been below hearth since Britain’s The Times newspaper reported on Friday that some Oxfam workers paid for sex with prostitutes in Haiti after the nation’s 2010 earthquake.

Oxfam has neither confirmed nor denied that particular account however has stated an inner investigation in 2011 confirmed sexual misconduct occurred, and it has apologized.

The scandal has shaken the help sector, with Britain and the EU reviewing Oxfam’s funding.

South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu stepped down on Thursday as an Oxfam ambassador. A press release stated he was “deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity”.

In his first response to allegations over his conduct, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, who ran the Oxfam operation in Haiti on the time, stated he didn’t wish to solid himself as a sufferer however feared that Oxfam, different assist employees and people they assist would undergo from false accusations.

In a four-page open letter to a broadcaster in his native Belgium, he stated an unnamed former worker was the supply of stories that first broke in The Times.

“I am not a saint. I am a man of flesh and blood and I have made mistakes (not easy to admit) and I am DEEPLY ASHAMED,” the 68-year-old former soldier wrote in Dutch to broadcaster VTM.

He stated he resigned his publish operating the Oxfam operation after the 2010 Haiti earthquake as a result of he had didn’t train enough management over workers accused of sexual misconduct. But he denied any wrongdoing himself – he by no means organized “sex parties” or visited brothels within the nation.

He acknowledged having had a quick sexual relationship at his Oxfam home with an area girl whom he met on account of giving her youthful sister milk powder and diapers for her little one. He denied giving the lady cash however stated the liaison “fueled rumors” and had left his management and Oxfam “compromised”.

Reuters was not capable of confirm his account.


The letter additionally handled allegations about his conduct in earlier operations: In Liberia in 2004, he acknowledged, he was fired after attending a celebration the place two prostitutes have been current though he stated he had solely “danced and flirted” with them.

He stated rumors of assist workers paying for sex in Chad in 2006 have been “complete nonsense”.

Complaining of “slander”, he stated he believed the stories have been based mostly on allegations by a person he had fired in Liberia for drunkenness and abusing workers. He didn’t identify this particular person.

“I feel I have done wrong, but not in the way that some media are reporting,” Van Hauwermeiren wrote, including: “These allegations are destroying me and I no longer dare to appear in public or speak to my family and children.”

Reuters couldn’t attain Van Hauwermeiren for direct remark. A Oxfam spokeswoman declined to touch upon his letter.

Oxfam stated on Thursday it employed one other man to work in Ethiopia just a few months after he had been dismissed for misconduct in Haiti. The spokeswoman stated the choice was a “serious error and should never have happened.”

Haitian Justice Minister Heidi Fortune informed Reuters on Wednesday he had requested Belgium for assist in beginning authorized motion in opposition to Van Hauwermeiren, with out specifying which legal guidelines may need been damaged.

Belgium’s Justice Ministry stated on Thursday it had acquired no request and federal prosecutors stated they weren’t conscious of any investigation into Van Hauwermeiren. Belgium doesn’t extradite its residents to nations outdoors the European Union.

Also on Thursday, British International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and the director of the UK National Crime Agency mentioned subsequent steps relating to the Oxfam revelations. The NCA has led previous investigations into Britons who have been convicted of sex crimes overseas.

“They discussed how DFID and the NCA can work together in implementing laws on sexual exploitation and abuse and agreed to strengthen co-operation on this issue,” a spokeswoman for the Department for International Development stated.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Additional reporting by Ed Cropley in Johannesburg, William Schomberg and Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Alastair Macdonald, Andrew Roche and Peter Graff

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