Cablegate: 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.





E.O. 12958: N/A

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.


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