WHO to investigate sexual abuse by aid workers at DRC amid Ebola outbreak Democratic Republic of the Congo


The World Health Organization (WHO) has promised to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by people identified as health and aid officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the global body is trying to stop the spread of the Ebola virus. Used to be.

The WHO said it is “outrageous” and promised that the allegations would be “rigorously investigated” in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Betrayal of the people in the communities we serve is condemnable. We do not tolerate such behavior of any of our employees, contractors or partners. “Any person identified as being involved will be held in view of the serious consequences including immediate dismissal.”

News website The New Humanitarian released a report in conjunction with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in which more than 50 women accused activists aided by the WHO and non-governmental organizations of both unfairly sexualizing and sexually abusing women Are demanding Being hired for a job.

The WHO statement did not specifically mention the report, and would not say whether it received a complaint against employees or contractors during the Ebola response.

The WHO was in charge of efforts to control an Ebola outbreak in the eastern DRC between August 2018 and the end of June this year. During that time 3,481 people were infected with haemorrhagic fever and 2,299 people died.

It was the 10th Ebola outbreak seen in the country. This was particularly difficult to control due to the fighting between the various rebel groups and the government there.

Since the end of the Ebola mission, a new outbreak has occurred in the Western DRC.

Officials and workers, gender analysts and researchers, have been strategized by the United Nations and NGOs to end such behavior, said gender analysts and researchers.

‘Sexual Blackmail’

Fifty-one-year-old women reported for nearly a year that they were sexually abused or abused by mostly foreign men identified as aid workers at the outbreak center, Beni.

No one said he had a hotline, email address, or the person’s address to contact to report the incidents.

“Knowing the poverty of the population, many counselors amused themselves by using sexual blackmail to hire,” said a WHO employee who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of profanity.

In the investigation, the largest number of allegations – made by 30 women – involved men who identified themselves as being with the WHO.

Other organizations nominated by women included UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Oxfam, World Vision, UN Migration Agency IOM, Medical Charity ALIMA and DRC’s Ministry of Health.

While ALIMA and World Vision also promised to investigate, most said they needed more information to follow. Police heard rumors of abuse, but none of the victims were exposed, Senator Longo Ibelongandi said.

In a survey as part of the investigation, 18 agencies involved in the Ebola response said they had not received any complaints of sexual abuse. The six groups said they had received a total of 22 charges, six of which were confirmed.

“If you can’t find the report, then something is going wrong,” said Jane Connors, a longtime United Nations activist who became the first victims’ lawyer based in New York in 2017.

Experts in the aid sector blamed a male-dominated operation with very little money to combat sexual exploitation, huge incomes and power imbalances, and failure to win the trust of locals – seen in many other emergency responses Issues.

From Bosnia to Haiti, reports of sexual exploitation and exploitation scandals have shaken the aid sector for decades – shattering the confidence of the local population, donors and taxpayers.

In the DRC, some women believed they could get justice. Many said they could not afford to lose their jobs, while others feared being tarnished by family or community.

“The possibility of retaliation is so high,” said researcher and former aid worker Alina Potts of the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University. “They need a lot of confidence in that overall system to come forward.”

Eighty percent of survivors globally – not only in humanitarian crises – do not report sexual harassment for a number of reasons, said Miranda Brown, formerly with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Typically, survivors and victims do not use standard reporting mechanisms, but report to individuals of the trust.”

More women in senior roles

In West Africa, aid agencies deployed thousands of activists in eastern DRC due to the outbreak of sensitive Ebola in 2016–14 to criticize the acting slowly.

But according to an internal report by the Inter-Agency Prevention of Sexual Exploration and Abuse (PSEA) network seen by reporters, the network was not set for 14 months of the crisis to prevent sexual exploitation.

Despite the United Nations pledging to work closely with local people, the report said there was poor communication about sexual misconduct and how to report it.

Fidelia Odjo, the UN coordinator for the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation in the DRC, said agencies had their own hotline, email addresses and suggestion boxes to receive complaints, which were confusing for victims.

One woman said, “I didn’t know where to report it and I don’t trust the police much.” He refused and was denied a job. His friend, who agreed to sex, was hired.

As the PSEA Network reported, some $ 700m was spent on the Ebola response, but the network was crippled by lack of funds to combat abuse, receiving only $ 40,000 three months before the United Nations.

A “lesson learned” clause stated that agencies should talk to employees about sexual abuse at the outset of the operation.

Gender experts said that part of the problem was the domination of men. Men made up 81 percent of Ebola respondents working for WHO, it said in the 2019 report, while 15 of the other 18 organizations polled said their teams were mostly men.

“Increasing the number of women in senior roles in the operational setting will reduce the number of sexual abuse and abuse cases,” said Brown, who spoke about the UN’s child sexual abuse scandal in the Central African Republic (CAR) Testified to the US Senate.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after a 2016 report that the United Nations failed to take action on allegations made against peacekeepers in CAR.

To promote transparency, Guterres was required in 2017 to report allegations of abuse to all UN entities. The numbers are fed in real-time into a database and compiled on the United Nations website. The WHO only has “now”, agreed to post their allegations, according to Guterres spokesman Stephen Dujaric.

WHO spokesman Fadella Chaib said the agency was confirming the allegations to its governing body, the World Health Assembly.

The WHO’s latest global report shows 10 cases of sexual abuse and abuse since 2017, including one in 2020.

Looking ahead, a review of aid in the DRC commissioned by the UK government recommended promoting funding to local women’s groups to encourage victims to report.

Potts said that the inclusion of more women in emergency responses could help change power dynamics in aid delivery. “We can’t keep [women and girls] Expect to change more in these risky situations

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