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July 2, 2022

Countries demand answers from WHO on sex abuse claims


Report claims WHO’s management was aware of sexual abuse claims in DR Congo

Fifty-three countries voiced alarm on Friday at reports that World Health Organization leaders knew of sexual abuse allegations against the UN agency’s staff and failed to report them.

In a joint statement, the United States, the European Union, Britain, Japan and others demanded WHO chiefs display “strong and exemplary leadership” on preventing sexual abuse, following media reports that WHO management knew of alleged cases in the DR Congo and did not act.

A report by the Associated Press news agency earlier this month said internal emails revealed that the WHO’s management was aware of sexual abuse claims in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019 and was asked how to handle it.

The countries, also including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico Switzerland and Uruguay, said that adequately tackling the problem required cultural change across organizations and societies.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the assembly that the organization was “greatly disturbed by these allegations.”

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