Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks and Joaquin Castro, Chairs of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and of the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact, respectively, issued the following statement regarding an independent report commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by WHO staff during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report found evidence to support those allegations, identifying dozens of victims and perpetrators.
“The accounts of sexual abuse documented by the Independent Commission’s report are horrific and the evidence is damning. It is unacceptable that reports detailing the sexual abuse of girls, some as young as 13, and women who were exploited in exchange for work took this long to be taken seriously.
“Incidents such as those outlined in the report, and many more that go unreported, erode the credibility and trust of organizations conducting lifesaving work all over the world. There must be accountability for those involved, as well as a thorough reassessment of the broader culture, leadership, and mechanisms that enabled this behavior. The WHO must follow through to address the findings in this report and maintain a zero-tolerance policy for staff, regardless of rank, who are found to be responsible for conducting or facilitating sexual exploitation and abuse. We expect the WHO and others to use this report to enact decisive and sweeping reforms within their organizations in an effort to restore the confidence of the victims, the United States, and the broader donor community.”