21 WHO workers identified in report that identified alleged perpetrators connected to the 2018-2020 mission

Twenty-one workers for the World Health Organization in Congo have been accused of sexually abusing people during a Ebola outbreak, a WHO-commissioned investigative panel said Tuesday in a report that identified 83 alleged perpetrators connected to the 2018-2020 mission.

The panel released its findings months after an Associated Press investigation found senior WHO management was informed of multiple abuse claims in 2019 but failed to stop the harassment and even promoted one of the managers involved.

“This is the biggest finding of sexual abuse perpetrated during a single U.N. initiative in one area or one country during the time-bound period of a U.N. response effort,” said Paula Donovan, co-director of the Code Blue Campaign, which is campaigning to end sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers.

Panel member Malick Coulibaly said investigators uncovered a total of nine rape allegations. The women interviewed said their attackers used no birth control, resulting in some pregnancies. Some women said their rapists had forced them to have abortions, Coulibaly said.

The person said to be the youngest of the alleged victims, identified in the report only as “Jolianne,” recounted that a WHO driver stopped on a roadside in the town of Mangina where she was selling phone cards in April 2019 and offered to give her a ride home.

“Instead, he took her to a hotel where she says she was raped by this person,” according to the report.

The panel recommended that WHO provide reparations to victims and set up DNA testing to establish paternity and enable women to assert their rights and those of their children.

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