image source, Getty Imagesimage caption, Dozens of women accused WHO and other aid agency staff of sexual abuse and exploitation

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is horrified at the findings of a report into alleged sexual abuse by aid workers tackling the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti apologised to the women and girls who suffered "because of the actions of our staff" between 2018 and 2020.

Local women said that they were plied with drinks and forced to have sex.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was "inexcusable".

Dr Tedros said the 35-page report made for harrowing reading and apologised directly to the victims and survivors of the sexual exploitation and abuse.

"I'm sorry for what was done to you by people who are employed by WHO to serve and protect you," he told a news conference on Tuesday, adding: "It is my top priority that the perpetrators are not excused but held to account."

Mr Moeti, meanwhile, said he was "humbled, horrified and heartbroken" by the findings of the independent inquiry.

The report found that 21 of 83 alleged perpetrators had been employed by the WHO. The abuses, which included nine allegations of rape, were committed by both national and international staff.

The WHO said it was terminating the contracts of four people who were still employed by the organisation and promised more measures would be taken.

The report comes following an investigation carried out after more than 50 women accused WHO and other aid agency staff of sexual abuse and exploitation.