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Fight against sexual exploitation in peacekeeping

Annan calls for Security Council support in fight against sexual exploitation in peacekeeping missions

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has written to the Security Council appealing for more police and French-speaking investigators to strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as an expanded investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation and misconduct continues, a UN spokesperson said today.

In his letter, Mr. Annan says the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) needs another 100 military police and qualified Francophone investigators to conduct self-monitoring programmes, spokesperson Marie Okabe said at the daily briefing in New York.

Mr. Annan notes it is important for peacekeepers to know that the members of the UN community stand together in recognizing and honouring their tremendous contributions and sacrifices, she added.

Meanwhile, a multi-disciplinary team of investigators from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), led by Assistant Secretary-General Angela Kane, is in the DRC and has tightened a no-fraternization rule and imposed a curfew for military contingents.

DPKO has also organized a task force at UN Headquarters to take other steps, including the forceful promulgation of the UN Standards of Conduct for peacekeepers.

The Secretary-General ends his letter with a reaffirmation of his personal commitment to remain vigilant on this issue, and with an assurance that the UN will work tirelessly to restore faith in UN peacekeeping as one of the world's most noble callings, Ms. Okabe said.

Last month an initial report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) found that MONUC troops engaged in sexual exploitation of Congolese women and girls, with payment ranging from two eggs or $5 per encounter. The Office said such activities continued to take place even though troops were aware of the UN probe in Bunia in the eastern DRC.

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