WHO apologizes for sex abuse in DR Congo

The World Health Organization says some of its staff were involved in sexual abuse and exploitation during an Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus apologized for the misdeeds on Tuesday after the release of a final report on the matter by an independent commission set up by the organization.

The report says 83 aid workers, including 21 employed by the WHO, were involved in the wrongdoing. Many of them were Congolese. The alleged perpetrators are said to have promised jobs in exchange for sex.

The report says 29 women became pregnant, including a 13-year-old girl who was raped. The report is based on interviews with 75 males and females aged 13 to 43, who said they had been victimized.

The probe was launched last year in response to media reports that some WHO staffers had forced local women to have sex in exchange for jobs between 2018 to 2020. The WHO was working to cope with an Ebola outbreak.

Tedros said he is sorry for what was done to the victims by people who were employed by WHO to serve and protect them. He also said he is sorry for the ongoing suffering that these events must have caused.

Tedros pledged "wholesale reform" of his organization's structures and institutional capacity to prevent a recurrence of sexual abuse and exploitation.