Thu, 22 Oct 2020

UNICEF on Wednesday became the third UN agency to launch an internal inquiry into sexual abuse of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), promising "serious consequences" for any culprits.

The children's fund said in a statement it was "appalled that people who identify as UNICEF workers have reportedly committed abuse against vulnerable women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

It was not immediately clear how many UNICEF employees had been accused.

"There will be serious consequences for any staff who have been found to have sexually abused people," it added.

Earlier on Wednesday the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it too was investigating allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by one of its staff during the DRC's Ebola crisis, while the World Health Organisation made a similar announcement on Tuesday.

Placing three of the UN's weightiest agencies in the spotlight, the statements come after a year-long investigative report published on Tuesday by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian.

It found that more than 50 women had accused Ebola aid workers from the WHO and leading non-governmental organisations of sexual exploitation, including propositioning them, forcing them to have sex in exchange for a job, or terminating contracts when they refused.

The alleged abuses took place during the 2018-2020 Ebola crisis.

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