Over 50 countries demand explanations from WHO on reports of sexual violence

A total of 53 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that they are “concerned” about recent reports of sexual violence by staff members of the organization. WHO executives allegedly failed to report the facts.

The statement comes two weeks after new reports appeared in the media about the sexual abuse allegedly committed by aid workers from, among others, the WHO in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We have expressed concern over media reports that the WHO leadership was aware of cases of sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment, but failed to report it, such as the UN protocol and the WHO prescribes,” says the text, which was signed by the United States and the European Union, among others.

According to an investigation by The New Humanitarian (TNH) and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in the Congolese city of Butembo, 22 women stated that male aid workers who were on-site before the Ebola crisis offered them work in exchange for sex. Fourteen women said the men presented themselves as WHO employees.

A major trade hub in the northern province of North Kivu, Butembo was one of the epicentres of the tenth Ebola outbreak, which killed 2,200 people between 2018 and 2020.

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