The leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) ordered a probe into allegations of racism against African staff and misappropriation of funds.
The shocking claims came from three anonymous emails sent to the United Nations-backed organization, reports The Associated Press.
The first message claimed there is "systematic racial discrimination against Africans at WHO," and said Black staffers are "abused, sworn at [and] shown contempt."
The following emails accused upper management of "attempting to stifle" investigations into issues including missing money intended to provide relief to victims of Ebola.
Additionally, a WHO doctor allegedly "humiliated, disgraced and belittled" a Middle Eastern worker and contributed to what the writer called an "unacceptable, unprofessional and racist" response to the Ebola crisis. The emails were sent between April and December.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus signed off on the internal investigation and said the investigators "have all my support."
WHO’s detractors are skeptical an internal investigation will do any good.
Attorney Edward Flaherty is one of these critics. Flaherty represented Martina Brostrom, who claimed she was sexually harassed while working at UNAIDS, another United Nations organization. Brostrom’s claims eventually resulted in the resignation of UNAID chief Michel Sidibé.
"That's the same office that botched the initial investigation at UNAIDS," said Flaherty. "Having an internal investigation at WHO is as good as doing nothing."
Flaherty might have a point because a report from Time shows sexual harassment is rampant throughout UN-affiliated groups. A survey found one-third of all respondents experienced workplace sexual harassment.
Nigerian Oyewale Tomori, a former WHO virologist, believes every word of those emails, saying he saw the alleged behavior firsthand.
"After what I've seen at WHO, I have no doubt that everything in those emails is true," he said.
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