UN records 64 new allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse in three months

UN records 64 new allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse in three months
UN Photo/Hervé Serefio
Staff members serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) organized a student awareness campaign on sexual exploitation and abuse in Bangui. 24 January 2018.

Across its various offices, agencies, and partner organisations implementing its programmes, the United Nations received 64 new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), involving 77 victims, between July and September, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday.

“Please note that not all the allegations have been fully verified and many are still in the preliminary assessment phase,” he told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, adding that these quarterly updates are part of the Secretary-General’s initiative to “increasing transparency” on this issue.

Of those 64 allegations, six involved peacekeepers, 33 involved personnel from UN agencies, funds and programmes and another 25 concerned non-UN staff working with organisations implementing UN programmes.

Most of the reported incidents – 30 of them – allegedly took place in 2018; another 15 are said to have happened in the years going back to 2015. The date is unknown for 19 of the allegations reported.

Out of 77 reported victims, the overwhelming majority are women (42) and girls (24), while two men and one boy also report having suffered from SEA. The age or gender of the remaining eight survivors is unknown.

The vast majority of them, 55, suffered from what is categorized as sexual exploitation, defined as “any actual or attempted abuse of a 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 16 are considered to have suffered from incidents categorized as sexual abuse, defined as “the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”.

Another four were classified as of an unknown nature, and two were unsubstantiated following an investigation.

The alleged perpetrators are 66 men, one woman, and two individuals whose gender is unknown.

Of the 39 allegations related to UN personnel, one was not substantiated, 22 are at various stages of investigation, and 16 are under preliminary assessment to determine whether there is sufficient information to investigate.

Regarding the 25 allegations relating to non-UN implementing organisation staff, two have been substantiated through an investigation and the perpetrators were dismissed by their employer. One allegation was not substantiated, 14 are at various stages of investigation, seven under preliminary assessment and one allegation was closed at the request of the victim.

“The efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse continue to be strengthened,” said Spokesperson Dujarric.

In September, a Circle of Leadership, embodying world leaders’ commitment to eradicating SEA across the UN system was launched. As of today, 49 heads of State and Government, 22 heads of UN entities and 72 global leaders have joined the movement.

In addition, over the past few weeks, an electronic tool called “Clear Check,” developed to screen UN staff dismissed as a result of substantiated SEA allegations, or who resigned or were separated during an investigation, started being rolled out across the entire UN system.

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