Panel finds 80 alleged abuse cases tied to WHO’s Congo work

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The panel launched its findings on Tuesday, months after an Associated Press investigation discovered senior WHO administration was knowledgeable of a number of abuse claims in 2019 however failed to cease the harassment and even promoted one of many managers concerned.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appointed the panel’s co-chairs to examine the claims final October after media studies claimed unnamed humanitarian officers sexually abused girls through the Ebola outbreak that started in Congo in 2018.

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At the time, Tedros declared he was “outraged” and vowed that any staffers related to the abuse could be dismissed instantly. Western diplomatic sources say 4 folks have been fired and two positioned on administrative go away, based mostly on a closed-door briefing involving WHO that was supplied to diplomatic officers in Geneva on Tuesday.”

The overview crew was in a position to get hold of the identification of 83 alleged perpetrators, each Congolese nationals and foreigners. In 21 cases, the overview crew was in a position to set up with certainty that the alleged perpetrators have been WHO workers through the Ebola response.

The majority of the alleged perpetrators have been Congolese workers employed on a brief foundation who took benefit of their obvious authority to get hold of sexual favors, in accordance to the report.

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The AP revealed proof in May displaying that Dr. Michel Yao, a senior WHO official overseeing the Congo outbreak response was knowledgeable in writing of a number of intercourse abuse allegations. Yao was later promoted and lately headed WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, which led to June.

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WHO physician Jean-Paul Ngandu and two different company officers additionally signed a contract promising to purchase land for a younger girl Ngandu allegedly impregnated; Ngandu mentioned he was pressured to accomplish that to shield WHO’s repute.

The panel mentioned that in its interview with WHO chief Tedros, he mentioned he was made conscious of the intercourse abuse allegations once they have been revealed within the press and had not heard of the incident involving Ngandu till the AP revealed its story. The panel criticized WHO’s tendency to “reject all studies of sexual exploitation and abuse except they’re made in writing.”

Some of the ladies who say they have been victimized by WHO officers mentioned they hoped these concerned could be severely punished.

Shekinah, a younger Congolese girl who accepted a suggestion to have intercourse with WHO’s Boubacar Diallo in trade for a job, mentioned she hoped he could be sanctioned by the U.N. well being company and barred from working for WHO once more.

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“I would really like him and different docs who will likely be charged to be punished severely so that it’s going to function a lesson to different untouchable docs of the WHO,” mentioned Shekinah, who declined to give her final identify for concern of retribution. “He has no place at WHO.”

Others mentioned disciplining the WHO workers concerned would go a good distance towards ending violence in opposition to girls.

“I’ve been ready for this large second for greater than a month to see how WHO will sanction these (docs),” mentioned Anifa, one other girl who alleged she acquired an analogous sex-for-jobs supply from Diallo. “We would really like to see justice accomplished.”

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WHO chief Tedros made 14 journeys to Congo over the last outbreak and publicly counseled Boubacar Diallo’s work. The AP spoke with three girls who mentioned Diallo supplied them jobs in trade for intercourse.

Nearly 50 nations, together with Britain, the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands, later issued an announcement expressing their “deep considerations” about WHO’s dealing with of intercourse abuse considerations, alluding to the AP story. Even WHO’s personal workers committee urged administration to act over allegations that “senior administration might have suppressed considerations.”

The WHO panel didn’t embody any exterior police or judicial authorities and resorted to asking journalists for his or her contacts of ladies who made the intercourse abuse fees, together with their names, addresses, and images.

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According to leaked recordings of U.N. conferences obtained by the AP, WHO emergencies chief Dr Michael Ryan acknowledged that the Congo intercourse abuse allegations have been seemingly “the tip of an iceberg” and revealed an issue that “does replicate a tradition as nicely.”

Following the publication of AP’s investigation, WHO appointed an individual to oversee the prevention of sexual abuse, however that official has no authority to hearth anybody discovered responsible of abuse.

Julie Londo, a member of the Congolese Union of Media Women (UCOFEM), a girls’s group that works to counter rape and sexual abuse of ladies in Congo, applauded WHO for punishing staffers concerned within the abuse allegations however mentioned extra was wanted.

“WHO should additionally suppose about reparation for the ladies who have been traumatized by the rapes and the handfuls of kids who have been born with undesirable pregnancies on account of the rapes,” she mentioned. “There are a dozen ladies in Butembo and Beni who had youngsters with docs through the Ebola epidemic, however immediately others are despatched again by their households as a result of they’d youngsters with foreigners…We will proceed our combat to finish these abuses.”

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Cheng reported from London. Jamey Keaten contributed reporting from Geneva.

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