Reports that World Health Organization (WHO) employees are involved in sexual violence is a matter of great concern to dozens of UN member states. Managers would have known about it but kept silent.
A few weeks ago, media reports of sexual abuse by aid workers from, among others, the WHO in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019. 53 Member States are now responding with a statement expressing their concern about the reports that would also indicate that the WHO leadership was aware of cases of sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment.
Signatories include the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, and Indonesia. They demand strong leadership from the WHO in preventing sexual abuse, as they have done before.
According to research by news organizations The New Humanitarian and Thomson Reuters Foundation, more than 50 women in Congo have stated that male aid workers, who were there to fight the Ebola virus, offered their work in exchange for sex.
According to fourteen women, the men introduced themselves as WHO employees. Employees of the International Organization for Migration and UNICEF are also said to have misbehaved.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the allegations are being taken seriously and have hit the organization hard. In October, an independent seven-member commission of inquiry was set up to search for facts, victims and perpetrators. The report should be ready by the end of August.