Catholic aid organisations respond to rape, abuse claims

Catholic aid organisations are renewing their commitment to protect the vulnerable.

Their promise follows an investigation into international aid organisation Oxfam

The Times newspaper found Oxfam UK workers demanded sex for money following a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

The newspaper also accused Oxfam officials of financial mismanagement, harassment, bullying and negligent supervision.

“We are aware of The Times’ investigation of Oxfam UK members and their conduct in the Haiti earthquake response,” Catholic Relief Services Communications Director, Kim Pozniak, says.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these atrocious acts.

“We unequivocally condemn any act that violates the rights and human dignity of individuals.”

Following The Times revelations, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) dismissed a former Oxfam worker who joined CAFOD after working with Oxfam in Haiti.

Oxfam confirmed the employee was accused of sexual misconduct.

CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “We were not aware of allegations made against this employee and received two references, as standard practice, at the time of recruitment.”

David Adams, the Vice President of Missions for Cross Catholic Outreach, lived and worked in Haiti for years as Mission Director for the US Agency for International Development.

He says the majority of humanitarian aid workers in Haiti did not abuse their power in such an appalling way.

“Cross Catholic Outreach was deeply involved in the humanitarian response to the 2010 earthquake and observed that the great majority of humanitarian workers including our own staff responded to the needs of the vulnerable with nothing but love and compassion,” he said.

“We deliberately select staff with work experience in Haiti who understand the cultural context and underlying causes of poverty rather than aid workers who accept short-term positions moving from one country or disaster situation after another.”

Other Catholic aid organisations who work in Haiti also say that they have protocols for aid workers and partners in international development.

These protocols are intended to ensure the protection of the vulnerable people they serve.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) say their protocol includes a whistleblower system and a protection training course.

All CRS employees and partners must complete the course.


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