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Evidence of Sexual Abuse by UN Peacekeepers


A U.N. investigation has turned up evidence of sexual abuse by peacekeeping troops and civilian staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N. Officials have ordered a system-wide review of discipline among peacekeepers.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he is outraged by evidence that U.N. military and civilian staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo had engaged in sexual exploitation.

The Secretary-General issued a statement in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he is attending a summit of leaders from the African Great Lakes region. The statement was read to reporters in New York by U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard.

"I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say."

Mr. Annan's statement says he is sending a special team to the Democratic Republic of Congo to examine reports of further incidents, and to determine what further action can be taken.

The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, called for a review of staff discipline in light of the latest revelations.

Earlier this month, officials admitted that a French civilian at the U.N. Congo mission had been arrested on charges of child sex abuse. Two Tunisian soldiers were also sent home after being accused of sexual abuse against women.

The U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo involves about 11,000 people, making it the world body's second largest peacekeeping operation.

Spokesman Eckhard says U.N. investigators have looked into more than 70 cases of sexual abuse worldwide by peacekeeping staff, and found 30 of them to be valid. He said while the immediate focus would be on the DRC, the probe would encompass the entire U.N. peacekeeping system.

There are currently 16 blue-helmeted U.N. forces, eight of them in Africa, employing more than 62,000 military personnel and civilian police.

This article uses material from VOA.


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