Independent investigators commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by its staff in DR Congo cited “obvious structural failures” and “individual negligence” in a report released Tuesday .
The abuses were committed by locally recruited staff as well as members of international teams in the country to fight an Ebola outbreak from 2018 to 2020.
The commission interviewed dozens of women who have been offered work in exchange for sex, or who have been raped.
The 35-page report paints a grim picture, noting “the scale of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse in the response to the 10th Ebola outbreak, all of which contributed to the increased vulnerability of the” alleged victims “who have not received the necessary information, support and assistance required for such degrading experiences ”.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on Tuesday that the report “is a poignant read”.
“I am sorry for the continued suffering these events must cause.
I’m sorry you had to relive them while telling the commission about your experiences.
Thank you for your courage to do so “- @ DrTedros https://t.co/CbCTLWbiHi
– World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) September 28, 2021 WHO Chief for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said: “As leaders of WHO, we apologize to these people , women and girls.
The special commission cited “individual negligence which may constitute professional misconduct” in the report.
He also said he found “obvious structural failings and a lack of preparedness to manage the risks of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse” in this poor Central African country.
And the investigators underlined a “perception of impunity of the personnel of the institution on behalf of the presumed victims”.