WHO Asks For Information About Sex Abuse Claims in DR Congo

More than 20 Congolese women have accused aid workers of sexual abuse in claims that include rape and unwanted pregnancies, with United Nations investigators uncovering similar allegations of workers exploiting vulnerable women. On May 12, 2021, The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that they had spoken to 22 women in the city of Butembo who said male aid workers responding to an Ebola crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo offered them jobs in exchange for sex. The claims follow a joint investigation by reporters last year in which 51 women in the nearby city of Beni made similar allegations. 

On May 19, 2021, the World Health Organization urged anyone with information to come forward so that action can be taken. In response to a question about the recent accusations, WHO spokeswoman Marcia Poole said" "We encourage anyone who has any information to come forward and contact the community so this work can continue. The crucial thing as well is to look at the systemic changes that we need to make so that it doesn't happen again."

InFocus

In this illustration, a woman’s profile can be seen at a maternity ward in a hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. One woman in Butembo – an aid hub during the 2018 to 2020 Ebola crisis – told the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian that she had a baby after a man gave her a job with the World Health Organization in exchange for sex.

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