WHO says it is taking Congo abuse allegations ‘deadly seriously’

The World Health Organization is taking allegations that its staff were implicated in a sexual exploitation scandal in Congo “deadly seriously,” the organization said on Friday.

“The victims are to be believed, it is our job to do the appropriate investigations,” said Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergency coordinator, in Vienna.

“The organization is taking this deadly seriously. These allegations are horrific and it is awful to hear.”

His statements came after the news website The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that aid workers from the WHO and other non-governmental organizations operating in Congo had improperly propositioned women and demanded sex in exchange for work during the recent Ebola crisis.

The reporters spoke to more than 50 women who accused aid workers of improper conduct, including staff from UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and World Vision.

WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised to provide further details about an independent investigation.

Ryan said that WHO was actively seeking information “but we also need to ensure that we’re sensible in the way we do this and that those affected by this are not further traumatized by the process.”

He said if staff had been involved such behaviour, it indicated shortcomings in the organization’s training, staff recruitment, detection, monitoring or disciplinary procedures.

“We will look at each and every one of those processes to ensure that this is dealt with definitively and decisively,” he said.

Ryan said the organization would ensure this happened quickly and in the best interest of the victims.

UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and World Vision have also announced investigations.

Source: GNA

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