The World Health Organization (WHO) promised an investigation on Friday into “horrific” allegations of sexual abuse by aid workers combating an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“To be very clear, we are outraged to read these reports,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing in Geneva, promising punishment for perpetrators.

“We will not tolerate behavior like this from our staff, contractors or partners.”

Reuters News agency reported on Tuesday that more than 50 women had accused aid workers from the WHO and leading charities of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Anyone found involved would face serious consequences including immediate dismissal, Tedros added.

“I have initiated an investigation of the specific allegations, as well as broader protection issues in health emergency response settings. WHO has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse.”

In June, Congo’s government announced the end of the two-year outbreak that killed more than 2,200 people – the second-largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was identified in 1976 – just as a genetically distinct version flared up elsewhere in the country. Source: Reuters