The Hamilton Spectator
Experts slam WHO excusal of sex misconduct
Two experts appointed by the World Health Organization to investigate allegations that some of its staffers sexually abused women during an Ebola outbreak in Congo dismissed the UN agency’s own efforts to excuse its handling of such misconduct as “an absurdity” on Monday, saying they were not satisfied that no senior officials have been fired.
Some of the victimized women say — nearly four years later — they are still waiting for the WHO to terminate those responsible or be offered any financial compensation.
In October 2020, Aichatou Mindaoudou and Julienne Lusenge were named by WHO DirectorGeneral Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to head a panel investigating reports that some WHO staffers sexually abused or exploited women in a conflict-ridden region of Congo during the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak.
Their review found there were at least 83 perpetrators of abuse who worked for WHO and partners, including complaints of rape, forced abortions and the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, in the biggest known sex abuse scandal in the UN health agency’s history.
The panel also found that three WHO managers mismanaged a sexual misconduct case first reported by the Associated Press, involving a UN doctor signing a contract to buy land for a woman he allegedly impregnated.
A confidential UN report submitted to WHO last month concluded that the managers’ handling of that case didn’t violate WHO’s sexual exploitation policies, because the woman wasn’t considered a beneficiary of WHO aid since she didn’t receive any humanitarian assistance.
“The restrictive approach favoured by WHO is an absurdity,” Mindaoudou and Lusenge said.