Archbishop Tutu quits Oxfam role over charity's sex…

Joy Montgomery
February 17, 2018

Several staff were sacked or resigned in 2011 over a string of lurid claims, including that they had used prostitutes while delivering aid to Haiti.

Minnie Driver has become the first celebrity ambassador of Oxfam to resign following its handling of a sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti.

Hiring the man "even in an emergency as a short-term consultant" was a "serious error and should never have happened", it continued.

She said the charity were now "checking whether there were any issues in Ethiopia while Gurpreet Singh was there".

The scandal-hit charity said any ban on paying for sex in developing countries would "infringe on people's civil liberties".

"But I've also read a lot of lies and exaggerations".

An aid worker familiar with the case told IRIN that Van Hauwermeiren and other staff members were "shameless".

Before working in Haiti, van Hauwermeiren previously led a team in Chad, where it is alleged that he hired prostitutes for staff events as early as 2006.

"A lot of people, including the worldwide media, will be blushing when they hear my version of the facts", the 68-year-old told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, which visited him at his apartment on the Belgian coast.

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"It is not that I deny everything". There are things which have been described correctly. But there are many lies and exaggerations.

"Parties every week? Fancy villas?"

Van Hauwermeiren admits to "some mistakes", but claims he only had one intimate relationship with a Haitian woman that was not a prostitute. It hurts. It is especially very bad that my family does not want to see me any more.

As The Mirror reports, speaking at the VO5 NME Awards, he told the Press Association: "We've raised millions through the years with Oxfam - six million quid and everyone's said what a wonderful charity they are and we still support them".

Meanwhile, Oxfam said that it was "too early to tell the impact of the crisis" on donations, but revealed 1,270 people cancelled their direct debits between Saturday and Monday - nearly double the average of 600 cancellations per month.

Aid agency World Vision said on Tuesday there were 10 incidents in 2016 involving either sexual exploitation or abuse of a child involved in one of the charity's activities.

He said he resigned his post running the Oxfam operation after the 2010 Haiti quake because he had failed to exercise sufficient control over staff accused of sexual misconduct.

The Charities Commission has written to Oxfam "as a matter of urgency" to find out more of the Oxford-based charity's conduct following a major disaster in 2011.

However, Firth said it would be a tragedy if the charity's work came to a halt.

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