The World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has said allegations that aid workers sexually abused women while tackling an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo are “heartbreaking”.
Dr Moeti said she will ensure a “timely, fair and transparent investigation” and that those found to have been involved will face serious consequences.
She said she would ensure mechanisms of reporting such acts are corrected.
“The allegations of sexual exploitation & abuse by aid workers in #DRC #Ebola response are heartbreaking. I will do all in my power to ensure a timely, fair & transparent investigation. Anyone identified as being involved will face serious consequences,” she said in a tweet.
“All my life as a woman, doctor, leader, mother & health worker, I have fought against gender inequality, sexual harassment & abuse. When I became @WHO Regional Director for #Africa, I committed to advancing women’s careers & interests in the workplace.”
A year-long investigation by two agencies revealed that aid workers who identified themselves as WHO staff sexually abused women in the DRC.
The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation talked to 50 local women who were allegedly plied with drinks, “ambushed” in hospitals, forced to have sex, and two became pregnant.
The allegations cover the period between 2018 and March this year.