In Congo, more than 100 women have come forward with sexual abuse by World Health Organization workers during the Ebola outbreak.
The organization paid the victims $250 in compensation, the Associated Press reports.
In order to understand the situation, in March 2023, WHO employee Gaya Gamkhevage, who is engaged in the prevention of sexual violence, came to Congo.
According to an internal WHO report, she met one of the rape victims during the trip. This woman gave birth to a child with a “developmental disability that requires special medical treatment” and therefore higher costs.
|In the Congo, WHO workers committed sexual violence against women – the organization paid the victims $250 each. Photo: JOEL BIBUYA/Getty Images|
WHO has paid $250 each to at least 104 women who claimed they were sexually assaulted or exploited by cognitive staff.
It is noted that this amount is less than the one-day expenses of some UN officials working in the Congolese capital, and $19 more than Gamkhewage received for one day of the visit.
$250 in the Congo can cover expenses for less than four months. Many people in this country survive on $2.15 a day.
However, payments were made for a reason. In order to receive the money, the women had to take training courses to help them start “income-generating activities”.
Many victims still have not received anything. In a confidential document, the WHO said that about a third of the known victims were “untraceable”. At the same time, almost a dozen women refused the money.
One of the victims, 34-year-old Alfonsine, said that she was pressured to have sex with a WHO employee. In exchange, she was offered a job as an infection control worker on the Ebola response team. In order to receive compensation from the WHO, the woman took a baking course.
“Money helped at the time, but it wasn’t enough.” Alfonsine said in a comment to AP.
The victims told Gamkhevaga that they want “those responsible to be brought to justice so that they cannot harm anyone again.”
The WHO told the AP it calculated the reimbursement amount based on the cost of products in Congo and “global recommendations not to give out more cash than would be reasonable for the community to avoid putting recipients at further risk.”
“There is nothing we can do to compensate for this (sexual violence and exploitation – ed.).
Obviously we didn’t do enough.” Gamkhevage said.
According to her, WHO also helped cover the medical expenses of 17 children born as a result of the violence.
At least one woman who became pregnant from a WHO doctor agreed on compensation, which includes, in particular, a plot of land and medical care. In addition, the doctor also agreed to pay $100 every month until the baby is born.
In total, WHO paid the victims about 26,000 dollars. This is only about 1% of the $2 million “Sexual Violence Victims Relief Fund” created for victims of sexual violence, primarily in the Congo.
A group of experts created by the WHO has identified at least 83 abusers during the fight against Ebola, including 21 WHO employees. The youngest known victim was 13 years old.
We will remind you that earlier we wrote that the Catholic Church of Spain asked for forgiveness from the victims of sexual violence committed by the clergy.
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