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UN peacekeepers face new sex abuse claims in DR Congo

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A South African armored personnel carrier belonging to the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) patrols in the streets of Munzambayi, near Beni, on January 15, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations says it registered 18 alleged cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers and civilian personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year.

Adama Ndao, head of the conduct and discipline unit at MONUSCO, said that most of the complaints involved paternity cases, adding that some incidents went back as far as 2013.

"All allegations are being investigated by the competent structures," Ndao said.

The MONUSCO official assured that the complainants were being given "psychological and medical support".

In addition to the 18 cases, the UN office registered 19 claims of sexual abuse or exploitation made against UN peacekeepers in DRC in 2016.

UN peacekeeping missions have been hit by a raft of sex abuse scandals, including child sex abuse, in DR Congo and elsewhere.

On Monday, a UN spokesman said South African troops serving under MONUSCO were accused of beating a 17-year-old boy and sexually exploiting women.

Complaints against UN staff have also previously been made in other countries including Senegal, Uruguay and the Central African Republic.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has vowed to toughen the UN response to allegations of misconduct against the blue helmets whose mission is to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones.

The United Nations has nearly 17,500 troops and police serving in the DR Congo, its biggest mission.


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