Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ban alarmed by UN sexual abuse

UN chief Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern about a British charity report alleging under-reporting of child sexual abuse by aid workers and peacekeepers.

His press office said Mr Ban "is deeply concerned" by the Save the Children report.

"The abuse of children by those sent to help is a significant and painful issue and one that UN peacekeeping has and will continue to address candidly, comprehensively and robustly. Even one incident is one incident too many," it said.

The statement said the world body was committed to training and monitoring its civilian staff and working with its troop and police contributing countries "to ensure that all categories of UN personnel are both trained in and are accountable for the highest standards of conduct".

In its report, Save the Children said "children as young as six are trading sex with aid workers and peacekeepers in exchange for food, money, soap and, in very few cases, luxury items such as mobile phones".

It also highlighted instances of rape, verbal sexual abuse, child pornography and prostitution and trafficking of youngsters, many of whom are poor, displaced or orphaned by conflict.

The group said the scale of abuse was "significant".

But in Abidjan, the deputy UN high commissioner for human rights, Kang Kyung-wha, said that "a lot of information contained in the (Save the Children) report is actually based upon already published information" in Mr Ban's past reports.

"Any form of sexual exploitation, especially of children, is totally unacceptable and impunity for such abuses must not be tolerated," she said at the end of a three-day visit to Ivory Coast.

But she stressed the need for "credible information and evidence" before launching investigations.

"We have to protect the integrity and the honour of UN staff (who) at the end of the day, in many cases, could be the victims of false allegations and rumours," Ms Kang said.

Original Article-

Ban alarmed by UN sexual abuse The Australian

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