CRS fires Sudan country rep after allegations of verbal abuse, racism

CRS fires Sudan country rep after allegations of verbal abuse, racism

A file photo shows a Catholic Relief Services aid bag. A CRS country rep in Sudan has been terminated after allegations of verbal abuse, reports The New Humanitarian. (Credit: Sara Fajardo/Catholic Relief Services via CNS.)

Catholic Relief Services fired its country representative in Sudan after allegations of verbal abuse and racism.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Catholic Relief Services fired its country representative in Sudan after allegations of verbal abuse and racism.

The New Humanitarian, an independent, nonprofit news agency, detailed the allegations Oct. 22 in the main story on its website, thenewhumanitarian.org. The agency said the former country representative, Driss Moumane, had complaints against him dating back to 2018.

The New Humanitarian, formerly IRIN News, founded by the United Nations, spent six months investigating the claims.

The country representative leads the CRS team in a country.

In a statement released to Catholic News Service Oct. 22, CRS, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency, said it “conducted a thorough investigation of the claims leveled against the leadership in Sudan, and as a result, terminated employment with the former Sudan country representative on Oct. 18, 2020. CRS is in the process of transitioning to new leadership.”

The New Humanitarian article also claimed three former CRS employees told them “their contracts were terminated after filing complaints to Catholic Relief Services that involved Moumane.”

In July, Sudanese police arrested Moumane after he allegedly verbally abused a guard with the Al-Hadaf security company who had been assigned to Moumane’s house. The article also said the guard was paid to not pursue the case against Moumane.

The New Humanitarian article quoted Nikki Gamer, CRS media relations manager, as saying in an Oct. 16 email, “CRS has not made any payments related to Mr. Moumane’s case and has no verifiable knowledge of any payment made to settle this case.”

The CRS statement released to CNS said that additional claims about Moumane “continue to be investigated. According to our policies, CRS looks into any and all allegations and takes action as appropriate. CRS also has strict policies against retaliation. Positions are restructured or eliminated based on business decisions and applicable labor laws.”

“At CRS we believe in human dignity and respect for all people, and we have ‘zero tolerance’ for any and all racially divisive and insensitive behaviors, meaning all reports are taken seriously and assessed. We are committed to ensuring the highest standards of accountability and transparency, as well as the safety and security of all our employees,” the statement said.

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