EU stops funding to WHO in DRC over sex abuse scandal

The EU was providing funding to World Health Organization programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo aimed at combating Ebola and COVID-19.

The European Commission has temporarily stopped funding from the United Nations World Health Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after it was discovered last month that employees of the organization had been involved in cases of sexual abuse in the African nation. .

In a statement on Friday, the European Union executive said that it “has temporarily suspended payments and will refrain from granting new funds related to humanitarian activities undertaken by WHO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

“We hope that all of our partners have strong safeguards in place to prevent such unacceptable incidents, as well as to act decisively in such situations,” he said.

An independent investigation commissioned by the WHO identified more than 80 alleged cases of sexual abuse during the global health agency’s response to an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including allegations involving 20 staff members.

The panel registered at least nine complaints of rape. The women said the perpetrators did not use any contraceptive method, resulting in some forced pregnancies and abortions.

His report cited “clear structural flaws” and “individual negligence.” It indicated that the magnitude of the incidents had contributed to increasing the vulnerability of the alleged victims and denounced the management deficiencies in handling the alleged misdeeds.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus apologized to the victims and promised a “profound transformation” of the world body under pressure from donors to institute reforms.

The UN health agency said it has since adopted a zero tolerance plan to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in crisis areas and has allocated an initial amount of $ 7.6 million “to immediately strengthen its capacity to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse and exploitation, in 10 countries with the highest risk profile ”.

The EU had “mobilized considerable support” to tackle the Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2018 to 2020, including aid for partners such as the WHO. Currently, it is providing funding for a variety of programs, including addressing new Ebola outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Commission is in close contact with WHO and will use all means at its disposal to ensure that WHO resolutely addresses the situation by taking all necessary corrective and corrective measures,” he said.

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