Four women refugees and eight teenage girls accused two officials of the International Catholic Migration Commission of demanding sexual favours from them in exchange for scholarships in Western countries, money to attend local schools, blankets, and sanitary supplies.
According to one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last week the officials were Ernest Maigurira, ICMC’s Zimbabwe programme director, and Mavuvo Pambai, its community service officer.
The two were based at Tongogara refugee camp and the accusations were made in 2002.
The cable said the accusations were corroborated by Michael Graglia, an intern from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who had been sent by ICMC to evaluate the camp.
Maigurira reportedly tried to have the government cancel Graglia’s work permit after he submitted the report to ICMC headquarters in Geneva.
Maigurira denied any malfeasance and said any investigation would exonerate him.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1627, SEX SCANDAL IN ZIMBABWE REFUGEE CAMP
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001627
DEPARTMENT FOR PRM MLANGE
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SEX SCANDAL IN ZIMBABWE REFUGEE CAMP
¶1. (U) The July 1 edition of the independent “Daily News”
revealed that two aid workers in the Tongogara Refugee Camp
in southern Zimbabwe had been suspended after refugees lobbed
charges of sexual abuse against them. The International
Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), which operates the
camp, suspended Ernest Maigurira, its Zimbabwe program
director, and Mavuvo Pambai, its community service officer,
on June 25 until an investigation is completed. (Note: The
Tongogara camp, in a remote area of Chipinge district of
southern Manicaland province, intermittently houses between
500 and 1000 international refugees, most of whom are from
Angola, Burundi, the DRC, and Rwanda. The UNHCR and the
Government of Zimbabwe oversee the camp. End Note.) At
least four women and eight teenage girls accused Maigurira
and Pambai of requiring sexual favors from them in exchange
for scholarships in Western countries, money to attend local
schools, blankets, and sanitary supplies, according to the
article. One accused them of keeping makeshift beds in their
offices for sex with female refugees. J. Michael Graglia, an
intern from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International
Studies sent by ICMC to evaluate the Zimbabwe camp, wrote a
June report detailing the allegations of abuse. Maigurira
reportedly tried to have the GOZ cancel Graglia’s work permit
after he submitted the report to ICMC headquarters in Geneva.
Maigurira denied any malfeasance and said any investigation
would exonerate him.
¶2. (SBU) ICMC sent its Director of Operations, Dale Buscher,
to Zimbabwe to conduct an investigation during the week of
July 1 and found that “the allegations appear to be
substantiated,” according to additional press reporting.
Buscher reportedly interviewed 26 refugees at the camp, some
of whom said the abuse had been going on for at least a year.
ICMC said it was “shocked and disturbed” by what it had
uncovered, and that it was cooperating with local police. On
July 11, poloff spoke to John Adu, UNHCR’s resident
representative in Zimbabwe, about the scandal. Adu relayed
that UNHCR is conducting its own investigation and will have
a report out by the end of the month. He added that the
suspended ICMC officers are not being allowed near the camp
while the investigations continue.