UN, NGOs Shaken By DR Congo Sex Abuse Claims

A Venezuelan migrant is pictured in a humanitarian camp in Bogota


The humanitarian world has pledged to combat the scourge of sexual abuse within its ranks following shock revelations of alleged exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a report published this week, more than 50 women levelled accusations against aid workers from the World Health Organization (WHO), other UN agencies and major non-governmental organisations during the 2018-2020 Ebola crisis in the volatile eastern DR Congo.

A year-long investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian contained allegations of sexual exploitation, including propositioning women, forcing them to have sex in exchange for a job, or terminating contracts when they refused.

“The largest number of accusations — made by 30 women — involved men who identified themselves as being with the WHO,” the report said.

The WHO insisted Friday it was taking the “horrific” allegations “deadly seriously” and had launched an investigation.

The other UN agencies accused — the International Organization for Migration and the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF — plus NGOs cited have done likewise.

– ‘Of a certain morality’ –
The Congolese authorities and civil society have joined the chorus of outrage.

“On behalf of the government, I condemn this kind of attitude,” said government spokesman David Jolino Makelele.

“We are going to strengthen our control over these kinds of missions,” he told Top Congo radio.

“We want them to send to us people of a certain morality.”

Congolese 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege urged victims to file complaints.

“We have very courageous jurists and lawyers. I do not think they will back down in the face of international organisations,” said the gynaecologist, who defends female victims of sexual violence.

The UN says it has learned from previous sexual abuse scandals, such as that involving peacekeepers in the Central African Republic in 2014 and 2015.

“We have now at the UN secretariat a database to which the agencies report in real time any abuse allegation,” Alessandra Vellucci, spokeswoman for the UN in Geneva, told reporters on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “a zero tolerance policy”, she stressed.

– Failing alert system –
Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the system to help people to come forward clearly “doesn’t seem to have worked”.

“It is very, very painful for everybody involved with the best intentions in humanitarian assistance to see these cases emerge,” he said.

“No-one receiving humanitarian assistance anywhere in the world should ever be subjected to that.”

A UN executive contacted by AFP said donors, OCHA, the main UN agencies and NGOs “should sit down together and say ‘we have a serious problem here’.”

“The humanitarian world has yet to confront the problem squarely,” the official said.

The WHO played a leading role in the response to the 2018-2020 Ebola crisis, which was declared over on June 25.

Nearly 2,300 were killed — the highest Ebola outbreak death toll in the DRC’s history and the second-highest ever in the world.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press briefing in Geneva on Friday that he was “outraged” by the revelations.

“We come to save lives and spread hope. The betrayal of people in the communities we serve is reprehensible. We will not tolerate behaviour like this,” he said, adding that perpetrators would face “serious consequences”.

– Lure of money, jobs –
“Horrified but not surprised,” a leading witness told AFP, on condition of anonymity, following the allegations in the report.

“All the ingredients came together,” the witness said, citing concerns “from day one”.

Among those ingredients was an influx of money and generally well-paid humanitarian workers into the poor region around the afflicted towns of Beni and Butembo.

A billion dollars poured in to tackle the outbreak, funding the activities of UN agencies and NGOs under the auspices of the DR Congo’s health ministry.

For poor locals, the influx represented a rare chance to find decent work as drivers, security guards and housekeepers with the anti-Ebola response teams.

“We are here to look for a job, so that we can have something to eat,” a woman called Salome told AFP in March 2019 as she waited with dozens of others outside an Ebola treatment centre in Butembo.




Gunmen Kill 19 At Fish Market In Northeast DR Congo


At least 19 people were killed when gunmen attacked a fish market in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo near Lake Albert, local officials said on Sunday.

No group has claimed responsibility, but the region around Ituri province has been hit in the past by intercommunal violence between militias from the Hema and Lendu communities.

“Nineteen corpses were found in the village of Tara on the edge of Lake Albert, and eight others were wounded,” said Pilo Mulindo, a local community leader in Djugu territory.

“The attack happened on Wednesday when armed bandits attacked a group gathered on the beach to set up a market,” the official said.

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The UN mission to the DRCongo, known by its initials MONUSCO, reported the attack on Friday without giving a precise death toll. It planned to send a team to the area.

The victims were fishermen and their customers, Mulindo said. The area is known as a region where Lendu militia are active.

Violence shook Ituri province, particularly Djugu, last year when militias from Hema herder communities and Lendu farmers clashed and killed more than 100 people.

More than 300,000 were displaced or forced to flee to Uganda, on the other side of Lake Albert.

Lakes in the region are also a cause of tension between DRCongo and Uganda, with claims of Congolese militia members crossing to the Ugandan side for illegal fishing, often accompanied by attacks on locals.


2016 Davis Cup: NTF Wants Sports Ministry’s Support

davis cupThe Nigeria Tennis Federation has called for support from the Sports Ministry following Nigeria’s listing for the 2016 Davis Cup Africa Zone III championship scheduled for Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Poor funding has been identified as a major problem hindering the development of tennis in the country and the federation has asked the ministry to intervene by ensuring players and officials feature at continental and international competitions.

The International Tennis Federation ignored a possible sanction for Nigeria despite the last-minute withdrawal of the country from the 2015 edition in Cairo, Egypt.

Nigeria was included in the draw ceremony in its London headquarters on Monday, which brought some relief that there would not be any sanction for the country.

NTF President, Sani Ndanusa, while expressing gratitude to the international body, pleaded to the Sports Ministry for early release of funds to ensure its participation at the four-day tournament billed for the clay courts of the Antanarivo University.

“This is our New Year present from the ITF and we are not surprised because if there’s any country that the ITF has to be lenient with then it has to be Nigeria; our commitment to tennis has never been in doubt.

“Just last month, we hosted the Governor’s Cup championship which is among the top-rated Circuits in the ITF calendar. And in the next few days we will be hosting the Africa Junior Championship West and Central Africa Qualifiers which will be featuring about 14 countries. This is the second time in barely two years that we will be hosting the event. We also hosted the AJC proper in 2010.

“So this has put us in the good books of the ITF but that is not to say we will be taking them for granted. We will make sure that we put in place all modalities that will not only see us participate but go for one of the promotion tickets this year,” Ndanusa assured.

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda will also feature at the tournament.

Team Nigeria Ready for ITTF African Junior Championship in Egypt

tennis teamNigeria will on Monday begin its quest for glory in the team event of the 2014 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) tagged African Junior Championship taking place in Cairo, Egypt.

The eight-man team led by national coach, Nosiru Bello and assisted by Dotun Omoniyi will compete against seeded teams such as Tunisia, Algeria and the host nation.

In the team event draw that took place in Cairo, Nigeria’s male team has been pitched against Egypt, Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti and Congo DRC in Group One while Tunisia, Algeria, Angola Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa are in Group Two.

In the female draw, Nigeria will tackle Egypt, South Africa, Angola in Group One while Algeria, Tunisia, Congo Brazzaville and Congo DRC were drawn in group two.

In the cadet team event draw, Nigeria’s male team will battle Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria in Group One while group Two consists of Congo Brazzaville, Angola, South Africa and Djibouti.

For the girls’ draw, Nigeria will tackle Tunisia, Angola and Congo DRC in Group Two while Egypt has to confront Congo Brazzaville South Africa and Angola in Group one.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinal stage of the championship.

The Nigeria male team is made up of Olasunkanmi Oginni, Babafemi Babatunde, Joseph Osedunkwu and Sunday Akomolafe, while the female team has Tosin Esther Oribamise, Agnes Onoja, Ajoke Ojomu and Halimot Ayinla.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s quartet of Aly Ghallab, Mahmoud Fathy, Ahmed Mabrouk and Ahmed Dabous are the top seeded players in the Championships. Ahmed Dabous currently stands in second place behind Algeria’s Yaniss Douifi, with Tunisia’s Kerem Ben Yahia in third spot.

Mahmoud Fathy is in fourth position; Congo Brazzaville’s Gracce Babekidio occupies fifth spot with Aly Ghallab in the sixth.

The ranking produced by the African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) is a combination of the current ITTF World Rankings combined with the results gained at the immediate previous African Junior Championships.

Tunisia represented by Kerem Ben Yahia, Nadim Ben Mekki, Chouab Lagha and Salim Hassine occupy the second seeded position in the Junior Boys’ Team event with Algeria and Congo Brazzaville being the third
and fourth seeds.

Algeria is represented Yaniss Douifi, Salim Amokrane, Arslane Beldjelali and Abderrahmane Alioua; whilst for Congo Brazzaville the squad is formed by Christ Bientaki, Michel Lignan