Experts slam WHO excusal of sex misconduct

Experts slam WHO excusal of sex misconduct
Experts slam WHO excusal of sex misconduct

GOMA, Congo (AP) — Two consultants appointed by the World Well being Group to analyze allegations that some of its staffers sexually abused ladies throughout an Ebola outbreak in Congo dismissed the U.N. company’s personal efforts to excuse its dealing with of such misconduct as “an absurdity” on Monday, saying they weren’t glad that no senior officers have been fired.

Some of the victimized ladies say — practically 4 years later — they’re nonetheless ready for the WHO to terminate these accountable or be provided any monetary compensation.

In October 2020, Aichatou Mindaoudou and Julienne Lusenge have been named by WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to go a panel investigating studies that some WHO staffers sexually abused or exploited ladies in a conflict-ridden area of Congo in the course of the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak.

Their review discovered there have been not less than 83 perpetrators of abuse who labored for WHO and companions, together with complaints of rape, pressured abortions and the sexual assault of a 13-year-old lady, within the greatest recognized sex abuse scandal within the U.N. well being company’s historical past.

The panel additionally discovered that three WHO managers mismanaged a sexual misconduct case first reported by the Associated Press, involving a U.N. physician signing a contract to purchase land for a lady he allegedly impregnated.

A confidential U.N. report submitted to the WHO final month concluded that the managers’ dealing with of that case did not violate WHO’s sexual exploitation insurance policies, as a result of the lady wasn’t thought-about a beneficiary of WHO support since she did not obtain any humanitarian help.

“The restrictive method favored by WHO is an absurdity,” Mindaoudou and Lusenge mentioned in a press release, including that any gaps or ambiguity in these insurance policies must be weighed in favor of the sufferer to make sure the company is held accountable.

Anifa, a Congolese girl who labored at an Ebola clinic in northeastern Congo, mentioned she was provided a job at double her wage in change for sex with a WHO physician and was still traumatized by the experience.

“What number of occasions do I’ve to talk earlier than (the medical doctors) at WHO liable for the sexual abuse are punished?” she requested. “If WHO doesn’t take radical measures, we’ll conclude that the group has been made rotten by rapists.”

Anifa, who did not share her final identify for worry of reprisals, mentioned she did not count on any monetary compensation from the WHO, explaining that “cash won’t erase the injuries I’ve in my coronary heart.” She reported the alleged misconduct to the WHO in 2019, however by no means acquired a response.

WHO chief Tedros has mentioned repeatedly the company has a “zero tolerance” coverage for sexual misconduct.

Mindaoudou, a former authorities minister in Niger and Lusenge, a human rights activist in Congo, additionally slammed the WHO for its failure to punish any senior staffers linked to the abuse.

“We aren’t glad,” they informed the AP. “The ‘zero tolerance coverage’ doesn’t imply partaking in subterfuge to ensure nobody is liable for sexual abuse and exploitation.”

Paula Donovan, who co-leads Code Blue, which seeks to carry the U.N. accountable for sexual offenses, mentioned it was placing that consultants appointed by the WHO itself have been so brazenly essential of the company.

“Two brave African ladies uncovered sky-high ranges of tolerance for misogyny and racism on the high of WHO,” she mentioned. “Now it’s as much as governments to launch their very own really unbiased investigation into the group’s leaders, starting with Dr. Tedros, to root out the poison infecting WHO.”

When allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation surfaced within the press in September 2020, Tedros mentioned he was “outraged” and that anybody discovered to be concerned would face severe penalties. WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan claimed the company had “completely no particulars” of the abuse.

However the inside U.N. report famous that Tedros was knowledgeable of sexual abuse allegations in 2019 and that some instances of alleged misconduct have been mentioned by senior WHO employees shortly after they occurred.

The WHO has refused to touch upon the inner U.N. report and the company created a brand new division to stop misconduct after the Congo sex abuse scandal. Dr. Gaya Gamhewage, who heads that work, informed U.N. investigators that previous to being appointed, “sexual exploitation and abuse weren’t acquainted phrases to her.”

Tedros mentioned earlier this month that the company has established a $2 million fund to assist survivors of sexual abuse in Congo, but it surely’s unclear what number of ladies have obtained help.

Jeanette, a girl who says she was impregnated by a WHO physician whereas working at an Ebola middle in Butembo, mentioned she was pressured into having an abortion, which practically killed her. She mentioned she is ready for the WHO to punish the physician liable for her being pregnant and has had no affords of monetary compensation.

“I don’t have the power to work because the abortion,” she mentioned. “WHO ought to know that their staffers are flatterers, freeloaders and liars.”


Maria Cheng reported from London. Krista Larson contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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