27 February 2018

South Sudan: UN Peacekeepers Probed for Sexual Abuse

Khartoum — SOME 46 peacekeepers from Ghana are under investigation for alleged sexual exploitation in the war-torn South Sudan.

The members of the Ghanaian Formed Police Unit (FPU) are accused of engaging in sexual activity with women living at the United Nations Protection of Civilians site in the northwestern Wau.

The unit serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has fully been withdrawn from the Wau base to Juba, the capital city.

Francesca Mold, UNMISS spokesperson said he mission had zero tolerance to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).

The priority was to put the victims' rights and dignity first and ensure that there was transparency and accountability for such actions.

"That is why the Mission has taken immediate action to protect and support potential victims and witnesses in this case while a full investigation is carried out," Mold said.

"This (exploitation) is a clear breach of the UN and UNMISS Code of Conduct which prohibits sexual relationships with vulnerable individuals, including all beneficiaries of assistance."

UNMISS has over 17 000 peacekeeping personnel including 13 000 soldiers and 1 500 police maintaining peace in Sudan after a civil war broke out in 2013.

Mold said Ghanaian peacekeepers and police had generally made an excellent contribution.

"It is very disappointing that the behaviour of some police officers risks staining that record of service as well as the Mission's reputation."

UNMISS has informed UN headquarters in New York of the allegations.

António Guterres, UN Secretary General, has pledged to tackle sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the organisation's missions.

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