Haiti's President says Oxfam claims are 'tip of iceberg' as he accuses Medecins Sans Frontieres

'There should be an investigation into other organisations that have been working here since 2010'

Joseph Guyler Delva
Port-au-Prince
Saturday 17 February 2018 14:17
Comments
President Moise claimed that 17 workers with Médecins Sans Frontières were 'repatriated for misconduct' after 2010's earthquake
President Moise claimed that 17 workers with Médecins Sans Frontières were 'repatriated for misconduct' after 2010's earthquake

Haiti’s President said on Friday that sexual misconduct by staff of British charity Oxfam was only the tip of an “iceberg” and called for investigations into Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other aid organisations that came to the country after its 2010 earthquake.

“The Oxfam case is the visible part of the iceberg,” President Jovenel Moise said in a phone interview with Reuters on Friday. “It is not only Oxfam, there are other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the same situation, but they hide the information internally.”

The scandal has already shaken the aid sector, with Britain and the European Union reviewing Oxfam’s funding.

Oxfam, one of the world’s biggest disaster relief charities, apologised this week for unspecified sexual misconduct uncovered in a 2011 internal investigation. It has neither confirmed nor denied recent reports that some of its staff paid for sex with prostitutes.

“There should be an investigation into other organisations that have been working here since 2010,” said Mr Moise. “For example, [MSF] had to repatriate about 17 people for misconduct which was not explained,” he added.

It is unclear to which cases Mr Moise was referring.

Haitian President Jovenel Moise speaking at a ceremony on the eighth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in January 

MSF is looking into his comments and welcomes scrutiny on the aid sector, according to spokeswoman Analia Lorenzo. She added that the organisation had zero tolerance of sexual misconduct.

On Wednesday, MSF, which sends medical staff around the world to regions stricken with war and disease, said it had dealt with 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse among its 40,000 staff last year, and dismissed 19 people as a result. It did not provide details of where the harassment or abuse took place, who was dismissed or whether the complaints were also registered with local law enforcement.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, the former Oxfam official at the centre of the sex abuse scandal, said on Thursday he made mistakes by having a sexual relationship with the sister of a recipient of aid when working in Haiti, but denied paying for sex with prostitutes or abusing minors.

In an open letter to a broadcaster in his native Belgium, he said he feared that Oxfam, other aid workers and those they help would suffer from false accusations.

“We call on the Belgian and UK Government to assume their responsibility, and we call on the whole international community to help make sure those guilty of such misconduct are punished, whether they are Belgian or of another nationality,” President Moise said. “The dignity of the Haitian people has been trampled on.”

Haitian justice minister Heidi Fortune said he had asked Belgium for help in starting legal action against Mr Van Hauwermeiren. He did not say which laws he believed were broken.

Belgium’s justice ministry said on Thursday it had received no such request and prosecutors said they were not aware of any investigation into Mr Van Hauwermeiren. Belgium does not extradite its citizens to countries outside the European Union.

Prostitution is a crime in Haiti, but it was not clear what other crimes the Oxfam officials may have committed.

Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in