Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"UN troops in DRC accused of sexual abuse," Mail-Guardian, May 18, 2008.

The United Nations is investigating allegations that its peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its mission in the war-scarred country said on Wednesday.

The mission (Monuc) "is deeply concerned by allegations that surfaced recently of sexual exploitation and abuse against some of its Blue Helmets, in the province of North Kivu", spokesperson Kemal Saiki told reporters.

"These allegations are being thoroughly investigated by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services [OIOS]," he added. He gave no further details but UN and local sources said the investigation focussed on an alleged child prostitution ring in Masisi, north-west of the eastern province's capital, Goma.

The sources said that India Monuc peacekeepers in Masisi were accused of paying for sex with young girls near their camp between mid-2007 and early 2008.

The OIOS opened its inquiry in March. The vast Central African country is recovering from a devastating 1998 to 2003 civil war. Millions of people are believed to have died from the combined effects of the conflict. Since its first deployment in 2001, Monuc's civilian and military personnel have been involved in several sexual abuse and smuggling scandals.

A separate probe has been opened into charges by the wife of a former combatant that a Monuc peacekeeper tried to rape her last month in a camp for demobilised fighters. -- Sapa-AFP
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