WHO opens investigation into ‘Sex for Aid’ allegations against its workers in DR Congo

By Amos Fofung

After some 50 women step ahead and accused aid workers from the World Health Organization, WHO for demanding sex in exchange for jobs and aids, the health governing body has set up an independent investigation body to investigate the matter.

The WHO said on last week that it was setting up a seven-person independent commission to investigate claims of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers during the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Sex for aid made headlines some weeks ago after an investigation published last month by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian reported more than 50 women accusing aid workers from the WHO and leading charities for demanding sex in exchange for jobs during the 2018-2020 crisis.

Over seven organizations were named by the women who accused their workers of rights violations including WHO, UNICEF ALIMA, Oxfam, the UN’s IOM migration agency, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) among others.

Five out of seven of the organizations named in the expose have pledged to investigate, as has DRC’s health ministry.

Leading the WHO inquiry will be Aichatou Mindaoudou, Niger’s former minister of foreign affairs and social development, and Julienne Lusenge, a Congolese human rights activist, the UN agency said in a statement.

When news of the scandal went public, WHO spokeswoman Fadéla Chaib said “We would not tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff, contractors, or partners,” reiterating the agency’s “zero tolerance” policy.

TNH had reported that a 70-page draft review – circulated to aid officials working in Congo– looks at everything from corruption within the Ebola response to how women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation. It also details how donor funds are siphoned off and how aid recipients ultimately lose out.

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