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DRC President frustrated by 'despicable' sex abuse by WHO workers

A picture taken on January 12, 2020 shows a World Health Organization (WHO) sign at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has called for a "frank" judicial collaboration in the case of sexual violence committed by WHO agents in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the response to the Ebola epidemic, an official source said Saturday.

"The President of the Republic has called for a frank collaboration on the judicial level between our national authorities and the international bodies that will be responsible for shedding light on this case," said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya on state television, reading a report of the Council of Ministers held the day before.

President Tshisekedi's call comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) released a devastating report on Tuesday that 21 of its employees committed sexual violence against dozens of people during the DRC's Ebola response between 2018 and 2020.

President Tshisekedi expressed his indignation", "condemned these despicable facts", but "still praised the courage" of the WHO for having publicly denounced these crimes committed by its agents.

The independent commission of inquiry identified 83 alleged perpetrators, 21 of whom were WHO employees.

The report of this commission, set up by the head of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus after revelations in the press, denounces "structural failures" and "individual negligence".

Mr. Tedros said he was "sorry" to the victims and promised "severe consequences" to those responsible just after the report was published.

On Friday, the WHO's main donor countries, including the United States and the EU, demanded the organization's "total commitment" to prevent the recurrence of sexual violence by some of its employees, particularly in the DRC.

At the end of May, 53 WHO member countries had publicly expressed their frustration with the slow pace of investigations and the lack of transparency.

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