The investigation was prompted by an investigation conducted last year by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian in which more than 50 women accused humanitarian workers from the WHO and other charities of demanding sex in exchange for jobs between 2018-2020.
In its long-awaited report, the commission found that some 21 of the 83 alleged perpetrators were WHO employees, and that the abuses, which included nine reports of rape, were committed by national and international personnel.
“The review team has established that the alleged victims were promised jobs in exchange for sex or to keep their jobs,” commission member Malick Coulibaly told a news conference. Many of the male perpetrators refused to use a condom and 29 of the women became pregnant and some were later forced to abort by their abusers, he added.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has promised zero tolerance for sexual abuse and is said to be seeking a second term at the United Nations health body, said the report made “heartbreaking reading” and was he apologized to the victims.
“What happened to you should never happen to anyone. It is unforgivable. My top priority is to make sure that the perpetrators are not excused, but held accountable,” he said, promising more steps.
Regional director Matshidiso Moeti said the health agency was “shocked, horrified and heartbroken” by the findings.
Known perpetrators have been barred from future employment at WHO, while the contracts of the remaining four people employed by the agency have been terminated, authorities said.
One girl, a 14-year-old girl named “Jolianne” in the report, told the commission that she was selling phone recharge cards on the side of the road in April 2019 in Mangina when a WHO driver offered to take her to home. Instead, he took her to a hotel where she says he raped her and later gave birth to their son.
Some women, who indicated they were already employed, told the review team that they continued to be sexually harassed by men in supervisory positions that forced them to have sex to keep their jobs, get paid, or get a higher paying position.
Some said they had been fired for refusing to have sex, while others did not get the jobs they wanted even after having sex.
The alleged victims “did not receive the support and assistance necessary to live such degrading experiences,” says the report.
In June last year, the Congolese government announced the end of the two-year outbreak that killed more than 2,200 people, the second largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was identified in 1976. The Congo and other aid agencies too They have agreed to investigate the sexual incidents. abuse.
The Congolese human rights minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment.