WHO Ebola staff abused scores of women and girls, inquiry finds

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An independent investigation found that more than 80 women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo were sexually abused by aid workers, including some from the World Health Organization (WHO), during the Ebola outbreak between 2018 and 2020.  

The investigation found that at least 21 of the 83 allegations of abuse were specifically made against WHO employees, according to the WHO’s website

The report included nine allegations of rape and said that some abusers forced women who became pregnant after their abuse to have abortions, Reuters reported

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the findings “harrowing reading.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what was done to you by people who were employed by WHO to serve and protect you,” Tedros said.

“What happened to you should never happen to anyone. It is inexcusable,” he added. “As the director-general, I take ultimate responsibility for the behaviour of the people we employ and for any failings in our systems that allowed this behavior.”

“We in WHO are indeed humbled, horrified and heartbroken by the findings of this inquiry,” Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said of the investigation’s results.

Moeti committed to carrying out recommendations that came with the investigation’s findings and assured people that “such a situation will not happen again on our watch.”

The investigation was prompted after more than 50 women claimed aid workers from the WHO and other organizations abused them by demanding sex in exchange for employment during the Congo Ebola crisis, a Reuters investigation found. 

Tags Congo Democratic Republic of Congo Ebola Ebola outbreak Sexual abuse Sexual misconduct Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO World Health Organization

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