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WHO documents show payments to sex abuse victims

Healthcare worker treating Ebola patient in the Democratic Republic of Congo Associated Press/Photo by Jerome Delay

WHO documents show payments to sex abuse victims

The World Health Organization paid Congolese women who were sexually abused by WHO staff, according to internal documents recently obtained by The Associated Press. The newly acquired documents show the UN’s health agency paid $250 dollars each to at least 104 victims earlier this year. A 2021 investigation confirmed at least 20 WHO staffers abused local women while stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo during an ebola outbreak between 2018 and 2020. The 2021 investigation further found that 29 women became pregnant after the abuse, and abusers forced some of them to receive abortions, Reuters has reported.

Were these payments hush money? WHO insists the payments to the abused women were just compensation for taking a vocational training course and did not constitute hush money. WHO called it a “victim survivor package,” the amount of which was determined by “what would be reasonable for the community.” Still, Paula Donovan, co-director of the Code Blue campaign for ending UN sexual abuse, called the payments “perverse” and “unthinkable.”

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Onize Ohikere’s report on Ugandians and Islamic rebel groups attacking Congolese residents.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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