The secretary-general of the Belgian branch of Oxfam-Solidarity, Stefaan Declercq, says he is “deeply shocked” by reports in the press on Friday that six members of the humanitarian organization used prostitutes while on mission in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. “I apologize on behalf of Oxfam. I do not wish to hide behind the fact that these persons did not belong to the Belgian branch of the NGO,” Declercq said, adding that no employee of Oxfam Belgium was in Haiti in 2010. Oxfam’s Haiti Director, Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, was employed by the NGO’s British office. “He never worked for us,” Declercq said.
According to the British newspaper, The Times, which broke the story, sex workers allegedly participated in orgies in apartments and hotels paid for by the NGO. Refuting the allegations, Declercq said “an audit showed that Oxfam money was not involved”. The six employees concerned either were dismissed or resigned. None of them still work for Oxfam.
Declercq recalled that Oxfam employees must conform to the NGO’s code of conduct. Since then, “we have also drawn up an action plan aimed at greater transparency,” he disclosed. “A contact point has been set up to denounce suspicious behaviour and we have support persons whom staff can contact when they need to.”