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WHO knew but denied allegations about sexual misconduct by male staffers in Congo, report

The World Health Organization knew but denied allegations about sexual misconduct by male staffers in Congo, according to an Associated Press investigation published Wednesday.

The wire service reports the claims were reported to senior Who officials and were allegedly committed by the staffers during an Ebola epidemic in 2019 in the region.

After the incidents became public in 2019, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared outrage, and emergencies Director Dr. Michael Ryan said, “We have no more information than you have.”

However, WHO officials appeared to know about the claim based on a review of internal emails. They show WHO directors were so alarmed by the reported abuse that they crafted an anti-sexual exploitation strategy. However, staffers were uncertain if the strategies did enough.

A senior manager, Dr. Michel Yao, received emailed complaints about two doctors accused of sexual misconduct agains women in the region but did not fire either. The investigation was unable to determine if Yao had forwarded the findings to more senior WHO officials.

Many other women have come forward claiming offers of jobs for sex or being denied jobs due to denying sexual favors to WHO officials.

The Associated Press has identified two Who doctors in connection with the alleged abuse – Drs. Boubacar Diallo and Jean-Paul Ngandu.

In addition, a WHO staffer and three Ebola experts working in the region during the outbreak separately told management about general sex abuse concerns related to Diallo but were told not to take the matter further, the report states.

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Eight top officials privately acknowledged that the WHO had failed to effectively tackle sexual misconduct allegations in the Congo during the Ebola epidemic, describing it as systemic, the Associated Press investigative report also found. 

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