On Thursday, 22 October 2020, leaders of neighborhoods of Bunia in Ituri took part in an awareness raising session on the prevention and fight against sexual exploitation and abuse committed by United Nations personnel. Organized by MONUSCO women police officers, in collaboration with UN Mission's Conduct and Discipline Unit, the session took place in the conference room of the City Hall of this eastern DRC town.
The activity also aimed to provide participants with tools on the strategies and measures taken by MONUSCO and particularly the United Nations Police component to fight against this scourge. Finally, it was part of the continuation and strengthening of the United Nations "zero-tolerance" policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
Théophile Zugalani, Head of Division at the Bunia City Hall, thanked MONUSCO for this "salutary activity in the fight against sexual violence and abuse".
"I ask the neighborhood leaders to take the message back to their respective neighborhoods in order to fight impunity and the deviant behavior of some peacekeepers who are lost sheep that must be brought back to the flock; but also to better involve the community in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse and the protection of vulnerable groups.
Speaking during the session, Clémence Doamba, Head of the United Nations Police Sector in Ituri, insisted on the necessary implementation of the Zero Tolerance Policy towards deviant behavior.
"We are among those who protect the civilian population, we must not, because of our position, our behavior and our conduct, become abusers of those who rely on us for protection," she said.
Speaking in her turn, Deborah Barugahara, Head of the MONUSCO Conduct and Discipline Unit in Bunia, dwelt on the concrete and practical measures put in place by the United Nations and MONUSCO to prevent, punish sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN agents, be they national or expatriate, and to provide support to victims of such abuse.
To conclude, the participants were invited to get involved in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse, first by relaying messages to street and avenue leaders for a better popularization of MONUSCO's prevention policy against this phenomenon. Secondly, by denouncing any act of sexual exploitation and abuse of which they may be aware. The participants committed themselves to doing so, in the name of the protection of civilians.