Oxfam’s woes are far from over. The humanitarian organization is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct by staff in Haiti as a report came out on Saturday saying that the aid group kept a senior worker in the earthquake-devastated country for more than a year despite being lodged with harassment claims.
The internal report seen by media says the British-based charity group tried to contain sexual harassment allegations involving Raphael Mutiku, their staff who led the group’s installation of water supplies after the 2010 earthquake.
Documents reveal that Oxfam issued a final written warning to Kenyan Mutiku, who is in his 40s, in June 2010 following accusations of sexual harassment from female colleagues.
Six months later, Mutiku, an engineer, was accused of paying young women for sex at his Oxfam accommodation. However, his manager at the aid agency’s UK headquarters at that time was reported to have merely said that he hoped to “contain” the matter. The manager also only commented that it seemed that Mutiku was not “being discreet” and did not make an outright call to condemn the illegal and unethical act.
Oxfam confirmed that the decision not to fire Mutiku then came from Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director at that time and who also happens to be at the heart of the aid worker sex scandal.
The same report says that Mutiku “strenuously” denied paying prostitutes. He was fired in 2011 following an internal probe.
Oxfam in a released statement acknowledged that not sacking Mutiku in 2010 “was wrong” and Van Hauwermeiren was guilty of sexual misconduct at that time which compromised his decision-making, having lost the moral ascendancy to call out sexual abuses. Van Hauwermeiren admitted to paying for sex.
The group said what happened then was completely “unacceptable” and that they are taking some steps now to prevent similar incidents from happening again. Oxfam for one introduced a confidential whistleblowing hotline and had announced new standards to improve referencing.