Special Report


Over 75,000 people in eastern DRC remote camp facing ‘hellish conditions’

Up to 75,000 displaced people – including 35,000 children – living in a remote and inaccessible hilltop camp for displaced people in the province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are braving “hellish conditions” without adequate food, shelter, protection, security and sanitation, UNICEF has warned.

The size of the camp – located in Rhoe, 45km northeast of the provincial capital Bunia and only accessible to aid agencies by helicopter – has nearly quadrupled over the last two weeks. Humanitarian access by land is not possible because aid workers have been denied access or shot at by armed groups on several occasions over the last month.

The huge growth of Rhoe camp – up to 50,000 people are estimated to have arrived in the past two weeks – has followed several attacks on nearby camps at Drodro and Tche by armed groups, forcing thousands of already-displaced people to seek sanctuary there.

Over the last few weeks, 35 children, including 14 girls, were reported to have been killed or injured, some hacked to death by men wielding machetes. At least 13 girls were recently raped while attempting to find food in fields adjoining the camp.

Militants have also destroyed three hospitals and two schools in the area. It is impossible to verify exact figures on the number of violations committed against children, including kidnappings, because of persistent insecurity and lack of access to the Rhoe area.

The hilltop camp is located immediately next to a MONUSCO peacekeeping base. At least 35,000 children have taken refuge there, including more than 60 who were separated from their parents.

“Displaced people fled to Rhoe in the hope of finding some kind of safety and protection,” said UNICEF Bunia Chief Field Officer Ibrahim Cisse, “But in reality, they remain in danger. About 35,000 children and their families are enduring hellish conditions, effectively being held hostage, unable to move, on a remote hill in a dangerous and inaccessible part of Congo. They face serious food, sanitation, accommodation, protection and security issues inside hopelessly overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.”

The influx of new arrivals has severely stretched Rhoe camp, situated on uneven and often sloping land, to breaking point. Many of those who have arrived in the last fortnight do not have shelter or food and must sleep in the open. Some have sought overnight shelter in the camp’s latrines.

Camp resident Betune Ngave, 65,  typifies the suffering of many displaced people. She has been displaced several times since 2018, witnessing rape and mass murder in the process. Her husband was decapitated three weeks ago by militants and six of her seven children were killed in another attack in 2018.

They face serious food, sanitation, accommodation, protection and security issues inside hopelessly overcrowded and unsanitary shelters

“We have fled many times,” she said, “and seen our homes burned and children raped. My parents, my brothers, my sisters, and six of my children have all been beheaded or shot.”

Ms Ngave now lives in a flimsy and crowded shelter, about a quarter the size of a large car, which is neither wind nor rain-proof.

It is estimated there are about 1,300 people for every toilet in Rhoe camp and sewage flows openly through densely inhabited areas.

Access to locally grown food in the camp is almost non-existent because inhabitants are likely to be attacked by militants if they venture too far outside in search of food. There are now major concerns about the nutritional status of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, with UNICEF officials warning that the situation could deteriorate very quickly.

Water is likewise in perilously short supply, with children venturing down the hillside with jerry cans to collect drinking water. If that is too dangerous, inhabitants collect water from nearby swamps or small rivers. Such journeys to collect food and water can put children at risk of violence and makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

An alarming number of people have died recently in the camps because of respiratory illnesses, diarrhoea and malaria.

While Rhoe camp has a health centre, there are few beds and mothers with children mostly gather on the floor. The centre’s over-stretched staff carry out about 180 consultations per day. It is impossible for desperately sick people to be referred to hospitals and there is a lack of burial equipment for funerals.

UNICEF through its Rapid Response Programme imminently intends to distribute 5,500 Non-Food Item kits – including blankets, buckets, jerry cans, kitchenware and soap – in addition to tarpaulins and tents.

UNICEF plans to hand out individual water treatment tablets to camp inhabitants and is working with its partners to provide psychosocial support to over 500 children affected by armed conflict in the camp. Help is being provided to 58 children still separated from their families- so far only five children have been reunited.

Moves are afoot to survey the level of malnourishment in the camp in coordination with the World Food Programme and other agencies.

UNICEF is also lobbying to improve sanitation in the camp, in addition to working with MSF to bolster health support.

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AfricaSpecial Report

WHO Director-General’s remarks at the press conference on the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

As you know, in October last year, I appointed an Independent Commission to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse during the response to the tenth Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in North Kivu and Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The commission was co-chaired by Her Excellency Aïchatou Mindaoudou, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Social Development of Niger, and Madame Julienne Lusenge, an internationally recognized human rights activist and advocate for survivors of sexual violence in conflict, from DRC.

Today, the commission publishes its report. It makes for harrowing reading. I will make my comments shortly, but first I would like to welcome the co-chairs to present their findings.

I would also like to recognize the presence of the other members of the convention, Madame Dikéré Marie Christine Bocoum, Madame Carole Doucet, and Former Minister Malick Coulibaly.

Before I give the floor to the Commission to present, I would like to invent my colleague and sister, Dr Tshidi Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, to make her remarks. Tshidi, you have the floor.


Thank you, Tshidi. Now I would like to invite Madame Julienne Lusenge, one of the co-chairs of the Commission, to make her remarks. Madame Lusenge, you have the floor.


Merci beaucoup, Madame Lusenge. I would now like to invite Mr Malick Coulibaly, former Minister of Justice and former President of the National Human Rights Commission of Mali. Mr Coulibaly, you have the floor.


Thank you, Mr Coulibaly.

Finally, I would like to invite the other co-chair, Madame Aïchatou Mindaoudou, the other co-chair and former Foreign Minister of Niger, to make her remarks. Madame Mindaoudou, you have the floor.


Thank you Madame Aïchatou, and thank you all once again for the commission’s work, and for your briefing today.

The first thing I want to say is to the victims and survivors of the sexual exploitation and abuse described in the commission’s report.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what was done to you by people who were employed by WHO to serve and protect you.

I’m sorry for the ongoing suffering that these events must cause.

I’m sorry that you have had to relive them in talking to the commission about your experiences.

Thank you for your courage in doing so.

What happened to you should never happen to anyone. It is inexcusable.

It is my top priority to ensure that the perpetrators are not excused, but are held to account.

As the Director-General, I take ultimate responsibility for the behaviour of the people we employ, and for any failings in our systems that allowed this behaviour.

And I will take personal responsibility for making whatever changes we need to make to prevent this from happening in the future.

The commission has done outstanding work to get the voices of victims and survivors heard. But the investigation is not complete and will require further work.

But we must act immediately, and we will, in three areas:

First, support, protection, and justice for the victims and survivors;

Second, actions to address management and staff failures;

And third, wholesale reform of our structures and culture.

First, support, protection, and justice for victims and survivors.

As you have heard, the commission has identified dozens of potential victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, and 21 alleged perpetrators, who were employed by WHO at the time of the events.

The victims were only able to provide first names for several other alleged perpetrators, whom we are yet to fully identify. For those cases, WHO is engaging an external investigative service to assess what additional steps are required.

Based on the information we have, the Organization will ban the identified perpetrators from future employment with WHO, and we will notify the broader UN system.

We are terminating the contracts of four people identified as perpetrators who were still employed by the Organization when we were made aware of the allegations against them.

WHO will also refer the allegations of rape to national authorities in DRC for investigation, and in the country of nationality of the alleged perpetrators, where applicable.

We have requested confirmation from the Independent Commission that the victims of rape have provided consent for WHO to refer their cases to the relevant national authorities.

Providing services and support to victims and survivors is our central concern.

WHO is not yet aware of the identity of the victims and survivors.

As we receive more information from the Commission on their identity and location, we will ensure that they all have access to the services they need, including medical and psychosocial support, and assistance for education for their children. These services are available in DRC from our partners across the UN system.

We are committed to a survivor- and victim-centred approach that prioritises their needs, preferences and participation, as we expand services in DRC and around the world.

Although the Commission’s work has ended, we have provided continued access to anonymous reporting mechanisms for incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse. Anyone who calls to complain will be referred to services.


Second, actions to address management and staff failures.

The commission has identified negligence on the part of certain individuals that may amount to professional misconduct in the management of some of the incidents reported.

In my view, the failure of WHO employees to respond adequately to reports of sexual exploitation and abuse is as bad as the events themselves.

I appointed an Independent Commission to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse during the response to the tenth Ebola Virus Disease epidemic

We must have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, and zero tolerance for inaction against it.

I deeply regret that the suffering of victims may have been exacerbated by the apparent failings in the way the Organization handled reports.

The Commission has recommended an investigation to identify individual responsibilities for the failure to activate investigation procedures, and we are taking immediate steps to initiate that investigation, using an external investigative service.

While that investigation proceeds, the Organization has placed two senior staff on administrative leave, and we’re taking steps to ensure that others who may be implicated are temporarily relieved of any decision-making role in respect of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

It is important to be clear that these actions do not in any way prejudge the outcome of the investigation and are not a disciplinary measure or attribution of guilt.

The Organization will initiate appropriate disciplinary action in respect of findings of misconduct from the investigation.

We have also asked the Independent Expert Oversight Advisory Committee to engage an external body to conduct an audit into cases processed by WHO’s Internal Oversight Services, to establish whether any further cases of incidents of possible sexual exploitation and abuse were subject to procedural failings.


Third, we will undertake wholesale reform of policies and processes to address sexual exploitation and abuse.

But we must go further, to identify and address any shortcomings in our culture or leadership that fail to adequately protect the people we serve, or that create opportunities for abusers to exploit.

The commission has identified the need for fundamental changes in our structures and institutional capacity for preventing, detecting and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse in the communities we serve.

We will engage external experts and services to make sure this happens.

We need to make sure that victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse have safe and easily accessible reporting mechanisms, anywhere in the world.

As you know, the Ebola response in North Kivu and Ituri was a large and complex operation in a highly insecure region, requiring large-scale recruitment of local and international personnel.

But none of that is an excuse for sexual exploitation and abuse.

We accept that we should have taken stronger measures to screen candidates and ensure more effective human resources processes.

Already we have taken several steps to improve our HR practices in recruitment, onboarding, induction, and training. We will also take steps to integrate standards of behaviour relating to sexual exploitation and abuse in performance management, starting with leaders and managers.

We have also initiated special briefings for managers, especially at the country level.

Going forward, WHO country representatives, incident managers, health cluster coordinators and directors will be required to participate in additional training to ensure that they are able to create an environment for the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, and to take managerial action without delay in case of any suspected incident.

I will ensure we provide sufficient resources and staff for the work ahead of us.

The commission has made 7 recommendations, with 20 specific actions.

Many of these actions are already underway, and we will expand our work to include other priorities recommended by the commission.

We plan to provide a comprehensive management action plan with our Member States within the next 10 days, and transparency will be at the centre.

To further strengthen accountability, we have asked the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme to monitor and report transparently on our progress.

Once again, I would like to thank the Commission for its work, as well as the journalists who first reported the allegations that led to the initiation of the Independent Commission’s investigation and report. Thank you.

We value the role of the media in covering and uncovering these issues, and in holding WHO accountable.

I struggle to find the words to describe my feelings when I first read the Commission’s report.

The conduct it describes is a sickening betrayal of the people we serve. But it’s also a betrayal of our colleagues who put themselves in harm’s way to serve others, including those who paid the ultimate price, killed by armed groups in North Kivu, while working to protect the health of vulnerable communities from Ebola.

This is a dark day for WHO. But by shining a light on the failures of individuals and the Organization, we hope that the victims feel that their voices have been heard and acted on;

We want the perpetrators to know there will be severe consequences for their actions;

We expect and demand that all our staff at all levels understand the heightened responsibility that comes with working for WHO;

We will hold all leaders accountable for inaction in any suspected incident of sexual exploitation and abuse.

We are acutely conscious that we need to rebuild trust with the people we serve, with our Member States, with our partners and with our workforce.

Only then can we succeed in our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

I thank you. Fadela, back to you.

Remarks by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti

Thank you very much Dr Tedros, and I’d like in my turn to say good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to our colleagues in the media who have joined us for this press conference.

I would like to join the Director-General in thanking very sincerely the Independent Commission – the two co-chairs, the other members – for carrying out such important work and carrying it out so thoroughly and to this level of quality that we are going to be hearing about.

We in WHO are indeed humbled, horrified and heartbroken by the findings of this inquiry.

I’d like also to thank all the women and girls who have come forward and given evidence to the investigation and thus have given us the basis on which to take action in WHO which has been necessary.

I’d like to indicate that as WHO leadership we apologize to these people, to the women and the girls, for the suffering they have had because of the actions of our staff members and people that we have sent into their communities to help in a very difficult situation of an epidemic.

I also would like to commit ourselves in WHO to carrying out the recommendations of this thorough analysis of the situation by the Commission and to promise that it is our determination that such a situation will not happen again on our watch.

Thank you very much Dr Tedros.

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DiscussEconomyEducationSpecial Report

OPINION: Youth Perspectives, Education, Unemployment, Economic Opportunities & Justice

Every year hundreds of thousands of youth from different state graduate from Senior Secondary Schools, Trade Schools, Polytechnics, and Universities at different levels into a non-existent labour market. Year after year, more are added and the population of unemployed youth in Nigeria has swollen to an unimaginable level that should cause all right thinking leaders and fathers of Nigeria grave concern. It is an explosive situation and the tell tale signs of approaching both regional and national calamity are mirrored by the following tendencies:

Increasing involvement of post secondary school graduate in fighting introducing new levels of sophistication in planning and execution particularly in youth’s demonstration. Emergence of a deadly set of trouble makers  and assassins who are so bitter against the society to the extent that their object is not just to steal but to destroy and exact their perceived pound of flesh from a society that has abandoned them.

The youth and youngsters of the Nigeria were not born with criminal tendencies in their blood. The Nigeria is known for utmost revere for core cultural and societal values most of which hold brotherly love sacrosanct. However, today these youth have found themselves in an environment where the rich flaunt their wealth with reckless abandon, whereas they (the youth) as perceived, are denied the opportunity and access to acquire such wealth. The average youth of Nigeria today believes those ahead of them have cornered and closed up to the nation’s wealth chiefly derived from nature’s (God given) endowment of their mother land. They now see crime as one sure route to survival and access to acquire wealth.

Now is the time for organ of government entrusted with the affairs of that region to sit up and devise a credible means to tame these monstrous tendencies before it consumes all of them. As stated earlier, the solution can be found in creating as many jobs as possible in a hurry. Creating credible and sustainable youth empowerment programmes in all parts of the country, is the answer. The present ugly situation can be reversed if the Federal Ministry of youth development and leaders of our country get truly committed to job creation. One cannot overemphasis the fact that the survival of thousands of youths is dependent on the quality of education, patriotism, social and political orientation and the value system of its youths who are our future leaders.

My mission therefore, is to guide the present government of Nigeria and assist in providing a solution to the challenges faced by Nigerian youths below:

  • Unemployment
  • Low level of Vocational Skill
  • Financial Hardship
  • Lack of Social Connection
  • Negative Peer Influence.

The focuses on issues such as drug abuse, crime, violence, sexuality and poverty. In addition to these, today’s youth are afflicted by new challenges which include:

  1. An Identity Crisis: Who am I?
  2. Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem: I am worthless
  3. A sense of hopelessness: Where am I going?
  4. Confusion and ambiguity concerning moral issues: What is right and wrong?
  5. Confusion and ambiguity concerning National economic standards as it affects the Nigeria areas of youth in relation to other regions
  6. The negative impact of the electronic media: Entertainment.

All these have resulted in youth restiveness and eventually in crime. Kidnapping in the area have currently assumed the status of a giant monster. I recognize that Nigerian government have a serious challenge on their hands to ensure that today’s children (tomorrow’s adults) would have a better life and an assured future. They should all work towards this objective and not wait for a crisis to occur and then react, let them be prepared.

Every student in the Nigeria deserves the chance to go to college.

Most Nigerian high school students want to attend college. They recognize that higher education is the most direct path to success in their future careers. College also provides opportunities to explore talents and develop leadership skills they can use to participate more fully in adult life—at home, at work, and in their communities.

Millions of students can’t afford the tuition.

It’s estimated that between 2007 and 2017, nearly 2.2 million students won’t pursue college degrees because their families can’t afford the high costs of higher education.

Low-income students are particularly hard hit.

Only one in 10 low-income students can expect to graduate from college. This is not due to a lack of talent but instead to the high costs of tuition and to the fact that many graduate high school without the skills they need to succeed in college. They also lack guidance on how to choose a school, apply for admission, and fill out financial aid forms.

Thousands of low-income, minority students are highly motivated and ready for college every year. We’re working to help them get there through scholarship programs. We’re also creating programs in lower performing schools designed to help low-income students get ready to enter—and then succeed in—college.

I believe in educating future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

Youth’s encourage leadership and public service in the Nigeria and abroad. Government of Nigeria most provide ideas for graduate student in fields that benefit local and global communities.




Amb Abdullahi Bindawa DSC ,UN Security Expert ,Nigerian educator, Humanitarian worker and was the most widely recognized young leader in Africa continent.

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