UN reports 31 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in Q3

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 4 – The United Nations received 31 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse within its system in the third quarter of the year, 12 of them were from peacekeeping operations, a UN spokesman said Friday.

Not all of the allegations have been verified, and some are in the preliminary assessment phase, cautioned Stephane Dujarric, the chief UN spokesman.

Out of the 31 allegations, 12 are from peacekeeping operations and 19 from UN agencies, funds and programs. Ten are categorized as sexual abuse, 19 as sexual exploitation, and two are of an unknown nature, said Dujarric.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, saw the largest number of allegations of 15. The 12 incidents involving uniformed personnel are from the UN peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4),Liberia (3), the Central African Republic (2), Haiti (1), Mali (1),and South Sudan (1). The rest of the cases are from the UN migration organization, IOM, and the UN children’s fund, UNICEF.

Thirty-eight male alleged perpetrators have been associated with these incidents. Of the 36 victims, 72 percent are women and 19 percent are girls. Fourteen investigations have been launched during this timeframe, he said.

Twelve of these allegations occurred in 2017, two in 2016, six in 2015 or before, and the dates are unknown for 11 of them, he said.

Of the 31 allegations, one (from the UNHCR) has been substantiated by an investigation, 13 are at various stages of investigation, 10 are under preliminary assessment and seven are under review as limited information has been provided.

Dujarric said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “disappointed and saddened” by the prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse in the UN system.

The new quarterly update is a follow-up to Guterres’ campaign for zero tolerance with sexual exploitation and abuse. The UN chief appointed Jane Connors as the first UN Victims’ Rights Advocate to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse and installed a series of measures to remove the “black mark” on the world organization, including system-wide mandatory training and an electronic screening tool to prevent re-employment by UN agencies of those who were dismissed as a result of substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, or who resigned or were dismissed during an investigation.

The UN secretary-general’s engagement with member states has brought 58 heads of state or government to the “Circle of Leadership.” Seventy-four member states have signed a voluntary compact and 18 more have formally indicated their intention to sign it, said Dujarric.

(Copyright Xinhua, received from National News Agency)

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