Diplomats, donors concerned about sex abuse reports at WHO

LONDON — British, European and American diplomats and donors have voiced severe issues about how the World Health Organization dealt with sex abuse allegations involving its personal employees throughout an outbreak of Ebola in Congo, as reported this week by The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the AP published an investigation documenting that senior WHO administration was knowledgeable of a number of sex abuse allegations involving at least two of its medical doctors through the epidemic in 2018.

A notarized contract obtained by the AP confirmed that two WHO staffers signed off on an settlement between WHO’s Dr. Jean-Paul Ngandu and a younger lady he allegedly impregnated in Congo. In it, Ngandu promised to pay the younger lady cash, cowl her being pregnant prices and purchase her a plot of land. The contract was made “to protect the integrity and reputation of the organization,” Ngandu mentioned.

“The U.K. has a zero tolerance approach when it comes to sexual exploitation and harassment — and that extends to all international organizations that we fund,” mentioned Simon Manley, the U.Okay.’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva. “We are speaking with WHO and other major donors as a matter of urgency to establish the facts.” Britain is WHO’s second greatest donor, after the U.S.

In a press release, the U.S. State Department mentioned extra should be executed to handle sex abuse points at WHO. Asked about the AP investigation, officers mentioned they had been requesting extra info about the allegations. “Those responsible for any abuse must be held accountable,” it mentioned.

In Congo, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator David McLachlan-Karr mentioned he was decided to punish any humanitarian staff discovered responsible of sexual misconduct like that detailed within the AP report.

“All these allegations must be investigated and the victims must be heard,” he mentioned in a press release. “These allegations undermine the trust of the people we serve.”

WHO has declined to touch upon the particular allegations reported by the AP and mentioned it’s ready for the outcomes of a panel created final October to analyze sexual abuse through the Congo outbreak involving WHO staffers.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies program, speaks during a news conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr. Michael Ryan, govt director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies program, speaks throughout a information convention at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
AP

“What’s alarming is that WHO seems to be keeping this abuse quiet and not publicly condemning these allegations,” mentioned Clare Wenham, an assistant professor of worldwide well being coverage at the London School of Economics. “There’s a lot of talk about giving WHO more money but I don’t think any government should be committing to that until we know it’s an organization we can trust.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the company’s third-largest funder, mentioned it expects U.N. businesses to conduct thorough investigations into sexual abuse as shortly as attainable.

“Our role as a funder is to hold organizations that receive grants from the foundation to the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” the inspiration mentioned.

Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Global Health Law at Georgetown University, mentioned the final word duty for WHO’s Ebola response lies with director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The AP discovered that one of many medical doctors accused of sexual harassment, Boubacar Diallo, bragged about his relationship to Tedros, who talked about Diallo throughout a speech in January 2019. The AP spoke with three girls who mentioned Diallo supplied them WHO jobs in alternate for sex; Diallo denied the claims.

“I find it hard to believe Tedros would have known about these allegations and done nothing,” Gostin mentioned. “(He) must meet the highest ethical standards so we must understand what he knew and when he knew it. … Dr. Diallo may have used his relationship with Tedros as leverage in sexual exploitation, but it would not be Tedros’ fault if he wasn’t aware of it.”

Balazs Ujvari, a spokesman for the European Commission, mentioned it will “thoroughly monitor the investigations” by the AP. He mentioned the fee is able to evaluation or droop funding “for any partner who is not living up to the required high ethical and professional rules and standards.”

The World Bank mentioned it’s “deeply concerned” about the brand new sex abuse allegations at WHO. The financial institution paused its negotiations with Congolese authorities for brand new financing to businesses, together with WHO, final 12 months when reports of common sex abuse through the Ebola outbreak surfaced.

“We review our relationship with any organization whose standards are in question,” the World Bank mentioned.

Jiress Ngalya, a resident of Beni, Congo, the place among the not too long ago reported sex abuse allegations involving WHO occurred, mentioned it will be a welcome determination if donors decreased their funding to WHO after seeing how the company dealt with sex abuse allegations within the nation.

“This should be a lesson to all humanitarian organizations to not abuse innocent women in our region,” he mentioned. “This would show that they are not untouchable.”

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