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80 Sexual Abuse Cases Against WHO Staff Deployed In Congo During Ebola Outbreak

Women revealed that they were asked for sexual favours. They were forced to consume alcohol, attacked by the accused on hospital premises, and forced to have sexual intercourse, which resulted in pregnancy in two cases.

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In a shocking development, the World Health Organisation found nearly 80 sexual abuse and exploitation cases against its aid workers and 20 staff members deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The incidents occurred between 2018-2020 when the Ebola outbreak hit the country, and the agency had sent aid workers and staff members to curb the situation.

Asked For Sexual Favours, Intoxicated, Attacked

More than 50 women have alleged rape crimes committed by Congolese and international workers in the two years.

Last October, the New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation interviewed dozens of women, who revealed that they were offered work in exchange for sex, and around 21 of the 83 alleged accused employed by the WHO.

The women were forced to consume alcohol, attacked by the accused on hospital premises, and forced to have sexual intercourse, which resulted in pregnancy in two cases, BBC reported.

Apart from WHO, the women approached UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the aid organisations such as Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), World Vision, and ALIMA.

In its 35-page report, an independent commission said that the organisation had structural failures in managing the risks of sexual abuse incidents in the central African country, the media reported.

Horrific & Inexcusable

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the allegations' horrific and inexcusable' and apologised to the survivors.

"I'm sorry for what was done to you by people who are employed by WHO to serve and protect you," he said. "It is my top priority that the perpetrators are not excused but held to account," Tedros wrote.

He took responsibility for the incident and assured justice and protection to the victims. The agency has now launched an independent investigation into the case and also terminated the contracts of the four accused out of the total, who were still working in the organisation.

WHO Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti also apologised to the sufferers, saying she sympathised with the women and was heartbroken by the findings.

Also Read: Swachh Survekshan 2022: Centre Launches 7th Edition Of National Cleanliness Survey

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