More than 50 women have alleged that they have been sexually abused or exploited in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Ebola aid workers who said they were from some of the world’s top humanitarian organisations.
The allegations centre around the town of Beni, one of the epicentres of the country’s 10th and most deadly Ebola outbreak which started in 2018.
In an interview, 51 women recounted multiple incidents of abuse and claimed the men who exploited them identified themselves as being with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, World Vision, medical charity Alima and the UN’s migration agency, IOM.
The allegations follow a joint investigation by The New Humanitarian (NH) and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF).
The majority of women said they were plied with drinks, others ambushed in offices and hospitals, and some locked in rooms by men who promised jobs or threatened to fire them if they did not comply.Advertisement
“So many women were affected by this,” said one 44-year-old woman, who explained that to get a job she had to have sex with a man who said he was a WHO worker.
She and the other women spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.