Sex scandal in refugee camp


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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.

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 02HARARE1627, SEX SCANDAL IN ZIMBABWE REFUGEE CAMP

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1627

2002-07-12 06:21

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001627

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM MLANGE

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREF PHUM EAID PGOV ASEC ZI

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.

 

SULLIVAN

(302 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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