NPR – A 43-year-old woman arrived at an interview for a job with the World Health Organization to raise community awareness about Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was late 2018. The outbreak there was the largest since the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa.
She said the interviewer told her she could only get the job in exchange for sex. When she refused, she said, the man raped her.
That’s just one of the stories in a newly released report on what’s being called a sex-for-jobs scandal as hundreds of aid workers rushed into remote villages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
They left behind broken lives, unwanted pregnancies and broken promises, according to the report. “Harrowing” was the word used by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to describe the accounts. He called it a “dark day” for the WHO.
The report itself is controversial, with some critics questioning whether the WHO can conduct a thorough and fair-minded investigation of its own staff.
“The commission documented 83 allegations of abuse, including nine allegations of rape, and verified that the WHO employed at least 21 of the alleged perpetrators.”
The allegations of mistreatment were first published in September 2020 by The New Humanitarian in conjunction with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
WHO officials said they knew nothing about the dozens of sexual abuse allegations against their staff until after The New Humanitarian article.
The WHO then convened a commission to investigate and prepare a report on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse during the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of eastern Congo.
The sexual abuse scandal is one of the largest ever documented in the U.N. system.
The commission documented 83 allegations of abuse, including nine allegations of rape, and verified that the WHO employed at least 21 of the alleged perpetrators during the Ebola response.
The report said: “The majority of the alleged perpetrators were Congolese staff hired on a temporary basis who took advantage of their apparent authority to obtain sexual [favors].”
But among the alleged perpetrators were also highly trained, international staff, including doctors, consultants and administrators … READ MORE.