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UN will tackle peacekeeping sex abuse

The United Nations has announced an effort to eradicate the scourge of sexual abuse in its peacekeeping missions.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who began his tenure in January, unveiled a report on Thursday that he said puts "the rights and the dignity of victims first".

 

“Such acts of cruelty should never take place. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes,” said Guterres.

 

“We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag,” he added.

 

Allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of UN peacekeepers have been met with international consternation.

 

More than half of the 103 cases reported last year were concentrated in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

The proposed measures include a concrete strategy to counter lack of accountability: Withholding salary payments to countries that do not investigate allegations.

 

Under current UN regulations, it is at the discretion of the nation that contributes soldiers to decide whether to hold their nationals responsible when faced with sexual abuse claims.

 

The new practice that ends this is already being implemented, Guterres said. Nearly $49,000 in withheld salaries is ready to be transferred to a victims’ fund instead, according to UN officials.

 

The global body also promises to establish greater transparency and create a “truly multi-stakeholder network” to help quickly identify and confront cases.

 

The number of allegations went up last year from 69 to 103. One major factor in the increase is thought to be more people choosing to come forward, according to the report.

 

Guterres stressed immediate action. “We owe it to the people we serve, to all of those women, men and children who see the UN flag as a symbol of something as invaluable as it is intangible: hope.”

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