Haiti per­ma­nently bans Bri­tain’s Ox­fam char­ity af­ter sex scan­dal

The Nation - - WORLD -

THE HAITIAN gov­ern­ment has per­ma­nently banned in­ter­na­tional char­ity Ox­fam Great Bri­tain from op­er­at­ing in the coun­try, fol­low­ing a scan­dal over sex­ual mis­con­duct by some of its work­ers there.

A gov­ern­ment state­ment said the ac­tion, which fol­lowed a tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion in Fe­bru­ary, was taken be­cause of Ox­fam’s “vi­o­la­tion of Haitian leg­is­la­tion and se­ri­ous breach of the prin­ci­ple” of hu­man dig­nity.

“The NGO is there­fore de­clared per­sona non grata,” Aviol Fleu­rant, min­is­ter of plan­ning and ex­ter­nal co­op­er­a­tion, said at a press brief­ing also at­tended by the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­te­rior min­is­ters.

He said a draft law was be­ing pre­pared to pro­vide closer con­trol over, and co­or­di­na­tion with, the many for­eign char­i­ties op­er­at­ing in pover­tys­tricken Haiti. Ox­fam, which had been present in Haiti since 1978, greatly in­creased its pres­ence there fol­low­ing the cat­a­strophic earth­quake of 2010, as did scores of other non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

But a 2011 Ox­fam re­port, made pub­lic this year, said the group’s then-coun­try di­rec­tor, Roland van Hauw­er­meiren, had ad­mit­ted pay­ing for sex and that three staff mem­bers had phys­i­cally threat­ened a wit­ness.

Four Ox­fam em­ploy­ees were fired for “gross mis­con­duct” and three oth­ers, in­clud­ing Van Hauw­er­meiren, were al­lowed to quit.

Ox­fam Great Bri­tain chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Goldring an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion last month, say­ing that some­one else should help “re­build” the group fol­low­ing the scan­dal in Haiti.

Ox­fam Great Bri­tain, part of Ox­fam In­ter­na­tional, saw its fund­ing plum­met amid the dam­ag­ing rev­e­la­tions.

The scan­dal sparked ad­di­tional claims about aid work­ers in Chad, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philip­pines, prompt­ing Ox­fam to launch a global ac­tion plan against sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse.

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