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WHO finds 80 alleged sexual abuse cases during Ebola work in Congo

Some 30 women had accused WHO employees of sexual exploitation and abuse. Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the allegations were "horrific" and launched the independent investigation.

The UN was one of several aid organizations whose workers have been accused of sexual exploitation of women in the DRC

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday released the final Independent Commission’s report into allegations of sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2018 and 2020.

More than 80 alleged cases of sex abuse were found, including allegations implicating 20 WHO staff members.

The UN probe follows the release of an investigation in October 2020 by The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where at least 30 women accused men working for the World Health Organization (WHO) of sexual exploitation and abuse.

A total of 51 women reported the abuse not only at UN organs such as the WHO, UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), but also at aid organizations such as Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), World Vision, and ALIMA.

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In this photograph taken July 14, 2019, a morgue employee walks with a cross past others disinfecting the entrance to the morgue in Beni, Congo DRC. (AP/File)

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the allegations as “horrific” and launched the independent investigation.

Congolese nationals and foreigners involved

The identity of 83 alleged abusers is now known to UN authorities. Both Congolese nationals and foreigners were involved. In 21 cases, UN investigators established with certainty that the alleged perpetrators were WHO employees during the Ebola response.

The majority of the alleged abusers were Congolese staff hired on a temporary basis, who are accused of taking advantage of their apparent authority to obtain sexual favors, the report said.

First published on: 28-09-2021 at 19:53 IST
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