BENI, Congo (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian agency urged heavy punishments Friday for aid workers and others who committed sex abuses during the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo, saying it has launched a hotline to receive complaints from victims.
Diego Zorrilla, deputy coordinator in Congo of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, made the announcement in the town of Beni, where dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct have been made by local women following the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak.
“We have launched hotlines to receive complaints from victims and to report all acts of rape within humanitarian organizations,” Zorrilla said. “We call on all humanitarian agencies to start monitoring all cases of sexual abuse in the region.”
“These allegations are individual but also the fault of their organizations because they do not punish them,” he added.
The announcement by OCHA Friday comes after a series of media investigations by The Associated Press and others into allegations of abuses during the epidemic.
An independent commission investigating sex abuse allegations plans to publish its findings on Aug. 31.