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DRC: 'Troubling' Evidence Of Abuse By Blue Helmets

Ban 'deeply troubled' by evidence of abuse by blue helmets in DR Congo

12 August 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he was "deeply troubled" by the outcome of a probe that has revealed prima facie evidence that a number of Indian peacekeepers, previously assigned to one of the units with the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), may have engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse.

"He reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, that such behaviour, if substantiated, is wholly unacceptable and that disciplinary action to the maximum degree permitted by Indian law should be taken as soon as possible against those found to be involved in such misconduct," he said in a statement released by his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban said that the Indian Government had assured the UN that the allegations into conduct by peacekeepers for the mission, known as MONUC, would be promptly and thoroughly investigated and, if proven, strict and exemplary action would be taken as per the law.

Stressing that he highly valued India's long-standing and valuable support for UN peacekeeping, the Secretary-General expressed his respect for all those peacekeepers from India and other troop-contributing countries who served with honour and commitment.

He added that the misconduct of a few should not diminish the enormous contribution and sacrifice of the large number of blue helmets who serve the cause of peace.

The UN has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers, and senior officials have reiterated in recent years that this means there is no impunity for blue helmets who engage in such practices.

MONUC, which was established in late 1999, is one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world.

ENDS

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