Cordaid is deeply shocked by the news we received from Caritas Internationalis, the international network of aid organizations, of which Cordaid is a member.
A camp for displaced persons in the Central African Republic. Image: Cordaid
It has come to our knowledge that the director of Caritas Central African Republic has been accused of sexual abuse of children. The accused, who had already been convicted of sexual abuse in Belgium in 2012, has now been removed from office. The authorities in Belgium and the Central African Republic have been informed about the allegations.
We are appalled by the discovery that this person, a Belgian priest, has been put into a position where he was able to abuse children again. We are very sad about the indescribable harm that has been done to the affected children.
Caritas Internationalis has conducted an external investigation into the nature and extent of the recent allegations. Caritas Internationalis has launched a second independent investigation to uncover the internal handling of the matter and will determine how this could have happened, in order to bring justice to the victims and to prevent these abuse cases in the future.
At Cordaid, we have been and are closely monitoring the investigations to make sure they are conducted properly and independently. We will also do everything in our power to put the results into disciplinary actions for those who have violated the rules and for those who knowingly supervised and agreed to the placement of a convicted child abuser in a position of power. Cordaid has temporarily suspended all financial support to programs of Caritas Central African Republic.
Statement from the CEO
“This news has caused great concern to all of us at Cordaid. Too many times before, we have heard the shocking reports of abuse in the media, but now the reports are talking about a partner organization we used to work with closely.
This affects us all tremendously and our trust has been severely damaged. We are shocked, but also motivated to do everything in our power to find the truth and to bring justice to those who have been affected.”
The Hague, 21 November 2019
Kees Zevenbergen, CEO
Policy against sexual abuse
Sexual misconduct is a big problem in our societies. Cordaid believes this type of behavior in international aid is even more reprehensible because it is our task to help and support the most vulnerable people in the most difficult and fragile areas in the world. Any form of sexually undesirable behavior is completely incompatible with our values, and therefore unacceptable.
Cordaid is working hard to prevent, report and properly handle cases of abuse and misconduct.
Anyone who witnesses or experiences any type of misconduct or undesirable behavior can contact our integrity officer directly at [email protected]