The allegations, which include nine claims of rape, were said to have been perpetrated by 83 foreigners and nationals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including 21 WHO staff members.
Twenty-one World Health Organisation (WHO) staff members were allegedly involved in sexual abuse during the agency’s response to the Ebola crisis in central Africa, according to an official report.
The allegations, which include nine of rape, were identified by a special panel commissioned by WHO to look into claims involving the UN’s health agency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
It found a total of 83 perpetrators were involved in alleged sex abuse during the two-year response period, including the 21, in what has been called the biggest scandal of sexual wrongdoing linked to a UN institution in years.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the report produced by the panel made for “harrowing reading”.
Apparently referring to the victims, he said: “I am sorry by what was done by people employed by the WHO to serve and protect you.”
He said the findings would require “wholesale reforms of our structure and culture” and all known sex abuse perpetrators would be banned from working for the WHO in future, with four people already fired.
Western diplomatic sources who attended a closed-door briefing with WHO officials have said another two people have been placed on administrative leave.