Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan
The former boss of Catholic Relief Service in Sudan was arrested following an altercation in which he called a security guard a 'slave'.
2 min read
23 October, 2020
Catholic Relief Services is one of the world's largest charities [AFP/Getty]
The former boss of Catholic Relief Service's operations in Sudan has been accused of racist abuse, including calling a security guard a "slave".

A number of complaints had been filed against Driss Moumane in the years running up to his termination, The New Humanitarian revealed following interviews with several former and current employees of the NGO.

The US-based NGO, one of the world's largest charities, launched an initiative following the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests to tackle racism within the organisation.  

The same day Moumane sent his staff a reminder for the iniative's launch, he was arrested on charges of verbal abuse.

Moumane was arrested after reportedly called his security guard a "slave". 

"This guy humiliated me and my colleagues for over a year and a half," 22-year old security guard Mustafa Babikir Abdullah Ali told The New Humanitarian.

"When I saw the police arresting him after I opened the case, I was very glad."

TNH also discovered through interviews with former employees that their contracts were terminated after they filed internal complaints against Moumane. 

Catholic Relief Services spokesperson Nikki Gamer confirmed to TNH this week that Moumane's employment with the organisation had been terminated.

"CRS has robust systems and procedures in place for receiving and responding to fraud, safeguarding and other performance-related allegations, including appropriate disciplinary and corrective action," Gamer told TNH.

Moumane had been accused of racism and abuse as early as 2018, one insider told TNH.

He was arrested after an incident in which he described Babikir as a "slave". 

Babikir had come to collect an overdue payment, TNH reported. But when Moumane refused to pay, a heated exchange occured. 

During the fight, Moumane shouted "I don't like this slave, take him out!", Babikir relates. 

The charges against Moumane were eventually dropped, following an apology and a $800 payment, Babikir's attorney Salim Mohamed told TNH.

"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," Gamer said.

A 2018 whistleblowing complaint seen by TNH accused Moumane of "favouritism and cronyism, neglect and abuse".

The former boss was accused of threatening to dock the pay of any employees who asked to protect their familes during the 2018 political upheaval in Sudan, which saw the ouster of former dictator Omar al-Bashir. 

Moumane also reportedly ridiculed the accents of staff and berated employees. 

Catholic Relief Agency is a US charity operating in more than a hundred countries worldwide.
Its operations in Sudan are funded by both the UK and US government.