Following reports that the World Health Organization reinstated staffers accused of mishandling a sexual abuse scandal during an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo – AIDS Healthcare Foundation condemns the decision to reappoint the employees as a sign the U.N. system is still struggling to handle sexual harassment and abuse allegations adequately.
“It is disappointing that no matter how many chances the WHO has had to correct past mistakes when addressing sexual misbehavior at the hands of its employees, it continues to make decisions that run counter to its commitment to ‘zero tolerance’ on sexual harassment and abuse,” said AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “We and civil society more broadly disapprove of the pervasiveness and tacit acceptance of sexual misconduct within the WHO and the U.N. system. Those in charge must communicate unequivocally in their actions and words that sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in any form.”
AHF has advocated for justice for sex abuse victims and for decision-makers within the U.N. system to hold perpetrators accountable dating back to the scandal at UNAIDS and its then Executive Director Michel Sidibé, who later resigned before his term ended.