The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said it has decided to set up an independent panel of seven people to investigate claims of sexual exploitation by aid workers during the 2018-Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reported Al Jazeera.
In September, an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian found that more than 50 women accused aid workers from the WHO and leading charities of demanding sex in exchange for jobs.
Between August 2018 and the end of June this year, around 3,481 people were infected with the haemorrhagic fever and 2,299 people died. There has been a new outbreak in western DRC since the end of the Ebola mission.
DRC’s health ministry and five other organizations named in the expose have pledged to launch investigation in the issue.
The WHO inquiry will be headed by Aichatou Mindaoudou, who was Niger’s former minister of foreign affairs and social development, and Julienne Lusenge, a Congolese human rights activist.
Mindaoudou has worked as a UN special representative to Ivory Coast and Darfur since working for the Niger government. Lusenge is known for her work advocating for victims of sexual violence in eastern DRC and also co-founded a Congolese women’s rights group.
The WHO said Mindaoudou and Lusenge will choose up to five other people with expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, emergency response and investigations to join the commission.
“The role of the independent commission will be to swiftly establish the facts, identify and support survivors, ensure that any ongoing abuse has stopped, and hold perpetrators to account,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a briefing to member states.
He added that the WHO will also hire an independent and external organization with experience in conducting similar inquiries to support the commission’s work.