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UN received 54 complaints of sex abuse, exploitation in 2018’s first quarter

IANS | United Nations |

The UN has received 54 complaints of sexual abuse or exploitation during the first three months of this year, Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Tuesday.

The allegations were reported from all UN entities and partners implementing its programmes.

Haq said that the allegations involved 66 victims of whom 13 were girls under the age of 18.

“Combating this scourge (of sexual abuse), and helping and empowering those who have been scarred by these egregious acts, continue to be key priorities for the Secretary-General in 2018,” he said.

Peacekeeping operations accounted for 14 allegations, 18 were from UN agencies, funds and programmes, 21 related to implementing partners and one to a member of a non-UN international force, he said.

The nationalities and other details of the alleged perpetrators and victims were not disclosed.

Haq added that 17 of the allegations were of sex abuse and 34 were of sexual exploitation, which involves exchange of money, favours or goods for sex.

Two of the allegations have been substantiated and and two were found to be unsubstantiated, while the rest were under various stages of investigation or review, Haq said.

“With over 95,000 civilians and 90,000 uniformed personnel working for the UN, sexual exploitation and abuse are not reflective of the conduct of the majority of the dedicated women and men who serve the Organization” in “some of the most dangerous places in the world,” he added.

He said that a separate report covering sexual harassment of UN employees would be issued later.

During the last three months of last year, the UN reported 40 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, of which 15 were from peacekeeping operations.

Making a commitment to zero tolerance, Guterres has declared: “We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag.”

In one of his initiatives to combat sex crimes in the UN, Guterres appointed a Victims Rights Advocate last year and improved the system for reporting complaints.