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Oxfam chief apologises for "babies in cots" comment on sex abuse scandal
March 22 2018, 05:57 | Irvin Gilbert
Benefactors cancel donations in light of the scandal
Officials from Oxfam met Haiti's planning and external co-operation minister, Aviol Fleurant, in Port-au-Prince on Monday to hand over a copy of a 2011 internal report which states that the British charity's former Haiti country director had admitted to using prostitutes during a relief mission following a devastating quake that struck the Caribbean island nation early in 2010.
Last week, Haitian president Jovenel Moise said sexual misconduct by staff of Oxfam was only the tip of an "iceberg" and called for investigations into Doctors Without Borders and other aid organisations which came to the country after the quake.
Oxfam last week unveiled an action plan to tackle sexual harassment and abuse, including creating a new vetting system for staff, and has urged victims to come forward with any new allegations. Van Hauwermeiren denies the allegations that he hired prostitutes at the property Oxfam had rented for him.
He also admitted thousands of people had cancelled their donations since the scandal broke and said corporate donors were waiting to watch what the charity's response would be.
Publication of the report comes as Oxfam seeks to move past the scandal after the British government on Friday suspended new funding to Oxfam's British affiliate.
Oxfam offered its "humblest apologies" to Haiti in a meeting between two senior members of the charity's leadership, Simon Ticehurst and Margalida Massot, and Haiti's minister of planning and external cooperation.
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the matter as "horrific", adding that "it was far below the standards that we expect for the charities and the NGOs that we're working with".
The Haitian government has expressed its outrage and launched its own inquiry.
OXFAM chief Mark Goldring is being investigated over his handling of an allegation of sexual assault.
Save the Children is facing its own problems after claims this weekend that one staff member drunkenly harassed a female colleague in 2015, holding her by the throat.
Van Hauwermeiren says he told Oxfam he had "intimate relations" three times at his house with "an honorable, mature woman, who was not an natural disaster victim nor a prostitute". "This is painful for me", she added.
Now 23, Mikelange Gabou said the Belgian initially helped her with supplies for her baby, and that they later had a "loving relationship" and he would sometimes give her money.
"The complaint related to events in late 2017 and was made by an individual who was not involved in 2010".