Home Health Congo to investigate “work for sex” relationships during the Ebola epidemic

Congo to investigate “work for sex” relationships during the Ebola epidemic

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Dozens of women accused of sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers during the 2018-2020 Ebola crisis

By Nellie Peyton

DAKAR, October 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The Democratic Republic of Congo will investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers that have been uncovered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian, the health minister said Friday. country.

Five UN agencies and international NGOs have also launched investigations after 51 women accused mainly foreign aid workers of asking for sex in exchange for work during the 2018-2020 Ebola crisis.

“We will send a team next week to investigate,” Congo’s health minister, Eteni Longondo, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The goal is to know the truth and understand exactly what happened, and then we can pursue justice if we determine who is responsible,” he said.

The government investigation will take place in conjunction with internal inquiries from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Agency UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Vision and the alima medical charity.

Other groups named by the women in the report were Medecins Sans Frontieres and Oxfam.

Most of the women – many of whose bills were backed by drivers from humanitarian agencies and local NGO workers – said numerous men had offered them proposals, forced to have sex in exchange for a job, or closed contracts when they got off the hook. refused.

The largest number of charges – made by 30 women – were against men who identified themselves as WHO workers, while eight women accused men who claimed to be with the Congo health ministry.

When contacted with the allegations, Longondo said he received no such reports during the Ebola response, but encouraged the victims to come forward.

None of the women interviewed during the nearly one-year investigation said they reported the abuse to the organizations involved or to the police because they were ashamed, fearful of reprisals or did not know how to do it.

Their allegations have prompted calls for greater control over the aid sector and tougher action, including cuts in funding if agencies do not address sexual abuse by staff.

The second largest Ebola outbreak in the world brought thousands of aid workers and millions of dollars to the distressed region, ending in June after the deaths of over 2,200 people.

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(Report by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Helen Popper; Please give credit to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http : //news.trust .org)

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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