In the wake of sexual abuse allegations, Oxfam has lost another of its ambassadors. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu spoke of "immorality and possible criminality," as Haiti launches a probe into the incidents.
Desmond Tutu issued a statement on Thursday saying he was "deeply disappointed" by the revelations of sexual assault and misconduct within Oxfam.
The 86-year-old retired South African church leader, who played a significant role in the anti-apartheid movement, said he had decided to resign in light of the allegations against the international charity.
"The archbishop is deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity," the statement from his office in South Africa read.
"Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has supported Oxfam International's good work for many years," his office stated. "He is also saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam's righteous work."
Tutu's retirement follows the resignations of Hollywood actress Minnie Driver and Senegalese musician Baaba Maal as celebrity ambassadors for Oxfam.
Haitian Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Rodrigue said Thursday that his country would open a probe on the sexual misconduct scandal, 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."
Sacked Oxfam staff member rehired
The British charity is under fire after The Times of London reported last Friday that Oxfam staff sexually exploited women and possibly children in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. The charity said several workers were fired or resigned in 2011 in the wake of the sexual misconduct claims.
On Thursday, Oxfam admitted a "serious error" in rehiring a staff member who had been sacked in 2011 over a string of claims, including the engagement of prostitutes during the delivery of aid to Haiti.
"One of those dismissed by Oxfam as a result of the sexual misconduct case in Haiti" had been "subsequently hired by Oxfam as a consultant in Ethiopia," Oxfam said in a statement on Thursday.
Having hired the individual "even in an emergency as a short-term consultant" constituted a "serious error and should never have happened," Oxfam continued.
"We are still checking how this occurred but it further highlights that we need an organization and sector-wide approach to the vetting and recruitment of both staff and consultants, especially in emergencies where there is pressure to fill posts quickly in order to help save lives."
Roland van Hauwermeiren, the man at the center of the Haiti allegations, issued a four-page letter on Thursday denying some of the accusations against him.
"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 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."
jm/kms (AP, AFP)