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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Oxfam scandal: Disgraced former Haiti director slams 'exaggerations and lies' 

Roland van Hauwermeiren said reports about his time in earthquake-hit Haiti had been exaggerated

Roland van Hauwermeiren, the man at the centre of the scandal, was allowed to resign from Oxfam before an internal inquiry into sexual misconduct by aid workers in Haiti had concluded / Reuters
Roland van Hauwermeiren, the man at the centre of the scandal, was allowed to resign from Oxfam before an internal inquiry into sexual misconduct by aid workers in Haiti had concluded / Reuters

Oxfam’s former Haiti director Roland van Hauwermeiren, who admitted to his employers he used prostitutes while on a humanitarian mission, has said allegations he hosted sex parties at a charity-funded villa in the earthquake-hit country have been exaggerated.

Mr Van Hauwermeiren said there had been “a lot of lies and exaggerations” about his time in Haiti.

“A lot of people, including the international media, will feel blushes on their cheeks when they hear my version of the facts,” the Belgian national told Het Nieuwsblad.

“There are things that are correctly described. But I also read a lot of lies and exaggerations. Parties every week? Chic villas? Women paid with money from the organisation?” the 68-year-old told the Belgian newspaper.

He added: “Now everything is exaggerated and that hurts, especially because my family does not want to see me anymore."

Mr van Hauwermeiren was allowed to resign from Oxfam before an internal inquiry into sexual misconduct by aid workers in Haiti had concluded.

He is also accused of using prostitutes during an aid mission in Liberia for another British charity, two years before he joined Oxfam.

Meanwhile international aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it responded to 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse in 2017 resulting in the dismissal of 19 staff members as the sex scandal surrounding fellow NGO Oxfam widens.

MSF- doctors without borders in English- have released figures about sexual harassment complaints to show transparency in the wake of the Oxfam scandal.

The charity, which is headquartered in Geneva, said it had received a total of 146 complaints in one year, 40 of which involved harassment or abuse.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders said it had acted on 24 cases of harassment or sexual abuse last year as British charity Oxfam faces a storm over its handling of a sex scandal. Pierre Andrieu/ AFP Photo
Aid group Doctors Without Borders said it had acted on 24 cases of harassment or sexual abuse last year as British charity Oxfam faces a storm over its handling of a sex scandal. Pierre Andrieu/ AFP Photo

“After an internal investigation, 40 cases were found to be allegations of harassment or abuse,” the charity said in a statement. “Of these, 24 were cases of harassment or sexual abuse.”

"Two of these were situations of sexual abuse or harassment by MSF staff against non-MSF staff (patients or members of the community). In total, out of the 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse, 19 people were dismissed."

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Read more:

Oxfam: Actress Minnie Driver withdraws support from charity over Haiti prostitute scandal

Former Oxfam worker reported three cases of sexual misconduct in one day

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The charity sector has come under increased scrutiny in Britain after the UK’s international development secretary Penny Mordaunt threatened to cut funding to any organisation that fails to ensure the highest standards are met on its staff members behaviour.

Speaking at an aid conference on Wednesday, she said: “No organisation is too big or our work with them too complex for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.”

Ms Mordaunt added that she would be bringing in the UK’s National Crime Agency to investigate the Oxfam abuse reports.

“While investigations have to be completed and any potential criminals prosecuted accordingly, what is clear is that the culture that allowed this to happen needs to change and it needs to change now,” she said.