UN receives 38 sexual allegation complaints against personnel

Nigerian peacekeepers
Nigerian peacekeepers [Photo: un.org]

The United Nations on said it received 38 allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) involving its personnel, in the second quarter of 2019.

A spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, released the figures to UN correspondents in New York.

According to him, those involved include civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping operations, and those from agencies, funds and programmes.

Mr Dujarric said not all the allegations had been fully verified, and many were in the preliminary phase of assessment.

He stated that only one of the 38 allegations had been substantiated through investigation, while eight were pending further investigation by member states.

Additionally, two allegations were “found to not be substantiated”, while 16 cases were in the process of being investigated.

Of those, 14 are under preliminary assessment to determine if there is sufficient information for them to remain active.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the organisation received 37 similar allegations in the first quarter of the year, making the Q2 figure higher by just one unit.

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Of the latest data, the spokesman said two allegations were still under review as “limited information has been provided”, and four had closed.

Forty-three victims comprising 19 women, 10 girls and 10 females of unknown age, have come forward with allegations.

There is one male, two boys, and one unknown victim, whose gender has not been identified, according to the figures.

Twelve of the allegations are categorised as sexual abuse, defined by the UN as “actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”.

Nineteen cases were considered sexual exploitation, meaning, “any actual or attempted abuse of position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.”

Another 10 allegations have been categorised as “other,” while two are of unknown nature, Mr Dujarric said.

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He added that 24 of the 38 allegations were related to agency personnel, funds and programmes, while 14 were related to civilian and uniformed personnel in peace operations.

“This quarter also saw 39 allegations involving non-UN personnel working for implementing partners — those mandated by the UN to carry out its programmes.

“These involve 42 victims, and 39 perpetrators,” he said.

Tackling scourge

In a statement, the UN said it was steadfast in its implementation of the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

“From this quarter onwards, the organisation will publish monthly updates on the status of previously reported allegations, dating back to 2017, when the current reporting framework began.

“Strengthening engagement with Member States, and encouraging their Governments to join the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership on prevention, launched in September of last year, is another measure the organisation is taking to stamp out further incidents.

“Finally, Secretary-General António Guterres is continuing to encourage all Member States to become signatories to the Voluntary Compact to which 101 States have committed so far, in a firm commitment to implementing a Zero Tolerance policy,” it said.(NAN)

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