More than 50 women have accused aid workers from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and leading NGOs of sexual exploitation and abuse during efforts to fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In interviews, 51 women – many of whose accounts were backed up by aid agency drivers and local NGO workers – recounted multiple incidents of abuse, mainly by men who said they were international workers, during the 2018 to 2020 Ebola crisis.
The majority of the women said numerous men had either propositioned them, forced them to have sex in exchange for a job or terminated contracts when they refused.
The number and similarity of many of the accounts from women in the eastern city of Beni suggests the practice was widespread, with three organisations vowing to investigate the accusations uncovered.
UN secretary-general António Guterres called for the allegations to be “investigated fully”.
In an interview conducted by The Guardian, Some women said they were plied with drinks, others said they were ambushed in offices and hospitals, and some said they were locked in rooms by men who promised jobs or threatened to fire them if they did not comply.