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Burundi: UNPeacekeeper Sexual Abuse Inquiry Begins

UN Conducts Inquiry Into Alleged Sexual Abuse By Peacekeepers In Burundi

The United Nations, pursuing its zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping operations and mission personnel around the world, announced today that it was conducting an inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of minors by troops in Burundi.

Maj. Adama Diop, military spokesman of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), set up to help restore lasting peace after decades of ethnic fighting, has been in contact with the Burundian police chief from the area where the alleged crimes took place, a UN spokesperson said in New York. No other details were immediately available.

In December ONUB suspended with immediate effect two military peacekeepers caught in allegations of abuse in Muyinga, on the central African country's border with Tanzania.

"This mission will not waiver from its responsibility to the Burundian people and the international community to ensure absolute implementation of the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel," it said then.

The main charges of sexual abuse and exploitation have been made against UN peacekeepers in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where in November some 150 cases were being investigated. But in January, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) said peacekeeping troops had continued sexual abuse.

The UN forbids peacekeepers to pay for sex or to have sex with girls younger than 18. In the DRC OIOS said payment ranged from two eggs to $5 per encounter. Some of the victims were abandoned orphans and they were often illiterate.

Last month the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) welcomed the Government of Morocco's decision to arrest six of its soldiers accused of sexual assault on civilians there.

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