The Star Late Edition

More sexual abuse claims against Aids workers add to scandal


MORE than two dozen women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have come forward with claims of sexual abuse by aid workers during an Ebola outbreak, adding to a scandal that broke last year, a report said yesterday.

Twenty-two women have said they were sexually exploited or abused, in acts that included rape or led to unwanted pregnancie­s, by male aid workers responding to an Ebola crisis in eastern DRC, The New Humanitari­an (TNH) and the Thomson Reuters Foundation said. The men offered them jobs in exchange for sex, identifyin­g themselves as working for major aid organisati­ons.

Three of the seven organisati­ons named are UN agencies, led by the World Health Organizati­on (WHO), which features in 14 of the claims.

The allegation­s centre on Butembo, a major trading city and an epicentre of the 2018/20 outbreak of Ebola that claimed 2200 lives.

“One woman said she was raped by a man who said he was with the WHO, and reporters learned of three others who said they had become pregnant,” the investigat­ors said.

“One of those women died after a botched abortion as she tried to conceal the pregnancy from her husband and children, her sister said.”

The gruelling fight to roll back the

An investigat­ion last year by the TNH, a news agency that covers humanitari­an crises, gathered testimony from 51 women who said they had suffered sexual exploitati­on in the neighbouri­ng city of Beni

The WHO, reacting to the latest accusation­s, said yesterday it had identified two women in Butembo as “potentiall­y having had sexually exploitati­ve relationsh­ips with individual­s” connected to the agency.

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