New York — Eleven paternity claims have been lodged against current or former members of the Tanzanian peacekeeping contingent in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations spokesman said on Monday.
"The Tanzanian battalion commander has detained implicated contingent members in the base awaiting further investigations," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. "Additionally, all troops have been confined to base camp."
The UN has not released the names of the Tanzanians under investigation. All were or are attached to the UN combat unit in the DRC known as the Force Intervention Brigade.
The claims of "transactional sex and sex with minors" were initially reported on April 1 by the UN military mission in the DRC. The number of allegations were not specified until Monday.
Four of the claims of sex abuse resulting in pregnancies or births involve the current Tanzanian contingent in the DRC, while the rest are linked to a previous group of Tanzanian peacekeepers, Mr Dujarric said. The incidents are said to have occurred in the village of Mavivi in eastern DRC near Beni.
The investigation into the allegations is at present being conducted solely by the UN, the spokesman added.
Tanzanian authorities have been notified of the sex exploitation claims, and have not yet indicated whether they will be sending their own investigators to the DRC, Mr Dujarric said.
A report last month by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for on-site court martial proceedings against peacekeepers charged with sex crimes. Under existing UN policy, accused peacekeepers are returned to their respective countries of origin where they are expected to face legal proceedings.
Mr Ban's report also urged that those peacekeepers proven to be sex offenders should have their UN-paid salaries transferred to a trust fund to be established for victims.
The United Nations has been rocked in the past year by multiple reports of sex abuse involving its peacekeepers. In all, there were 69 such allegations against members of 10 UN contingents around the world last year.
A total of 125,000 personnel are currently serving in 16 UN peacekeeping operations globally. Tanzania contributes 2,324 soldiers, police and military experts to half-a-dozen of those missions.
"That anyone serving under the UN flag should prey on the vulnerable is truly an abomination," Atul Khare, under-secretary-general for field support, declared last month. "We will never, never agree to protectors turning into predators."