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WHO apologises to victims of sexual abuse during Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Geneva [Switzerland], September 28 (ANI): The Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday apologised to the victims and survivors of the sexual exploitation in DR Congo by aid workers.

"The first thing I want to say is to the victims and survivors of the sexual exploitation and abuse in DRC described in the commission's report: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what was done to you by people who were employed by WHO to serve and protect you," he said.

The WHO has released the final Independent Commission's report today which stated that these cases of sexual abuse by aid workers occurred during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2018 and 2020.

He also said: "I'm sorry for the ongoing suffering that these events have caused. I'm sorry that you have had to relive them in talking to the commission about your experiences. Thank you for your courage in doing so."

The Director-General also took the ultimate responsibility for any failings in our systems that allowed this behaviour.

"As the DG I take ultimate responsibility for the behaviour of the people we employ, and for any failings in our systems that allowed this behaviour. I will take personal responsibility for making whatever changes we need to make to prevent this from happening in future," he said.

According to the report, at least 20 WHO staff were allegedly accused of sex abuse.

The Independent Commission was appointed by the WHO Director-General on October 15, 2020 to establish the facts relating to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse during the response to the 10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), identify and support survivors, ensure that any ongoing abuse had stopped, and hold perpetrators to account.

The WHO Director-General appointed as co-chairs Madame Aichatou Mindaoudou, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Social Development of Niger and Madame Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an internationally recognized human rights activist and advocate for survivors of sexual violence in conflict. (ANI)

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