UNITED NATIONS: The UN received 69 allegations of sexual exploitation against its peacekeepers last year with no Indian personnel involved in any wrongdoing, according to the world body’s new report.
Most number of peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse in 2015 were from Congo, Morocco, South Africa, Cameroon, Rwanda and Tanzania, the UN said in its latest report on special measures to protect people from crimes of sexual abuse and exploitation.
The UN report for the first time has given nationalities of the peacekeepers involved in sexual exploitation cases.
The total number of allegations recorded in 2015 was 69, up from 52 allegations recorded last year. No Indians were among the peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse.
The increase from 2014 was largely due to the number of cases reported in United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) at 22. MINUSCA was established in September 2014, and it reported no cases before 2015.
On the whole, 99 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were uncovered by the United Nations in 2015 across the organisation.
“I’m ashamed to call myself a peacekeeper on some of these days when I see cases like this,” UN Under Secretary- General for Field Support Atul Khare told reporters here referring to the pregnancy of a 13-year-old girl as he presented the findings of the report.
“What we need to do is not detract from the good work which is done by hundreds of thousands of peacekeepers. We need to find these culprits who bring a bad name to peacekeeping, who actually create problems within the country in which they find themselves, and most importantly who destroy young innocent lives. And we need to punish them in a certain manner that nobody else in the future will ever think of doing that,” he said.
India has strongly condemned the cases of sexual exploitation carried out by peacekeepers and stressed that it has a zero tolerance policy towards such conduct.
India has 7,798 peacekeepers in 10 UN missions across the world.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had told a session of the United Nations Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations last month that “my delegation is appalled by the recent cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) which have surfaced in some of the UN Peacekeeping Operations.”
“My delegation strongly condemns these unpardonable acts when the protector becomes the perpetrator. We have a zero tolerance policy on SEA cases and would like that there is zero tolerance on such issues across the UN too,” he had said.
Last December, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had pledged to urgently review recommendations made by an independent panel which found that the UN did not act with the “speed, care or sensitivity required” when it uncovered information about crimes committed against children by soldiers — not under UN command -– sent to the Central African Republic (CAR) to protect civilians.