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Statement by Chair on sexual abuse and exploitation by aid workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

30 September 2020

Commenting on The New Humanitarian and Thomson Reuters Foundation’s investigation that found the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other aid agency staff had sexually abused an exploited Congolese women.

Chair's comments

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“It’s sickening to hear another case of exploitation. How many more women and girls will be abused by those sent to help them before action is finally taken to stamp this out once and for all?

“The plight of the Congolese women reported to have been sexually abused and exploited is unimaginable. That these cases were not detected by internal reporting mechanisms at the organisations implicated highlights serious weaknesses in their systems for preventing and reporting abuse. Fear of contracting Ebola is terrifying enough, to then be exploited in such a way is abhorrent and should never happen.

“It is cases like these that drives my Committee to keep revisiting sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector. I wish we did not have to continue working on this, donors, including our Government, should have demanded root and branch change to prevent any abuse by those employed to prove support. Instead, we lurch from one scandal to another and keep hear that “lessons have been learnt”. They haven’t. Our current inquiry is uncovering that whilst safe guarding policies have changed in aid organisations, attitudes sadly have not.

The International Development Select Committee will keep demanding lasting change, showing aid workers that if they exploit people in this way they will be found out and will feel the full force of the law.”

Image: PA