POST TIME: 17 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Ex-Oxfam official denies organising orgies as Haiti opens probe

Ex-Oxfam official denies organising orgies as Haiti opens probe

A former Oxfam country director at the centre of sexual misconduct allegations embroiling the London-based charity has denied organising orgies, as Haiti announced it would open a probe into the spiralling scandal, reports AFP  from Brussels. Roland van Hauwermeiren, who led Oxfam's team in Haiti, was one of three staff members who resigned over allegations they hired young prostitutes following the devastating 2010 earthquake there. "I have never been into a brothel, a nightclub or a bar in that country," the 68-year-old Belgian national said in a four-page letter published on the website of Belgian VTM News.

"There were numerous men and women who tried to get into my house with all sorts of excuses to demand money, work, or to offer sexual services. But I never gave into these advances," he said.

Van Hauwermeiren, who has taken part in an internal enquiry at the British charity, said he told Oxfam that he had "had intimate relations some three times at (his) house".

"This was with an honourable, mature woman, who was not an earthquake victim nor a prostitute. And I did not give her any money," he said, adding that he was however "deeply ashamed" of the incident.

In comments to reporters at the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, who tracked him down in an unidentified town on the Belgian coast, Van Hauwermeiren said that a lot of the information in the media had been "exaggerations".

"A lot of people, including international media, will be embarrassed when they hear my version of events," Van Hauwermeiren said, adding: "Some things are described correctly, but I also have read lots of lies and exaggerations." "The hardest thing is that my family has rejected me," said Van Hauwermeiren, who was previously head of Oxfam's mission in Chad.

He added that he would "soon" make an official statement through his lawyer.

The Times of London reported last Friday that young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the earthquake which devastated the poor Caribbean country and left up to 300,000 people dead.

Groups of young prostitutes were invited to homes and guesthouses paid for by the charity for sex parties, according to one source who claimed to have seen footage of an orgy with sex workers wearing Oxfam T-shirts.

Haiti's foreign minister said Thursday that his country would open a probe into the scandal. The Haitian government "wants to shed light on this issue and find those responsible, those who are involved in this case and, if found guilty, to punish them in accordance with the law," Haitian Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Rodrigue told reporters.