31 Sexual Abuse Cases Filed Against United Nations Workers in Past 3 Months

Security Council members voting to authorize almost doubling the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan to nearly 14,000. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
A United Nations logo is seen on a glass door in the Assembly Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York City September 18, 2015. As leaders from almost 200 nations gather for the annual general assembly at the United Nations, the world body created 70 years ago, Reuters photographer Mike Segar documented quieter moments at the famed 18-acre headquarters on Manhattan's East Side. The U.N., established as the successor to the failed League of Nations after World War Two to prevent a similar conflict from occurring again, attracts more than a million visitors every year to its iconic New York site. The marathon of speeches and meetings this year will address issues from the migrant crisis in Europe to climate change and the fight against terrorism. REUTERS/Mike SegarPICTURE 13 OF 30 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "INSIDE THE UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS"SEARCH "INSIDE UN" FOR ALL IMAGES - RTX1SAQ1
A United Nations logo is seen on a glass door in the Assembly Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York City September 18, 2015. Reuters photographer Mike Segar 

“We’re seeing allegations that date back a few years because people feel freer and safer to come forward.”

By Rodrigo Campos

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Thirty-one new cases alleging sexual abuse or exploitation by United Nations personnel, nearly half of which involve the U.N. refugee agency, were filed between July and September for events stretching back at least three years, the U.N. said on Friday.

Not all of the allegations have been verified and some are in preliminary assessment phase, said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a press briefing. During the three month period, 14 investigations have been launched and one case has been proven, he said.

Of the 31 cases, 12 involve military personnel from peacekeeping operations including those in the Central African Republic and Mali.

The majority of the civilian staff cases, 15, involve the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Three cases involve the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and one the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

UNHCR and UNICEF did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside office hours. IOM was not immediately available outside office hours.

For decades, media and U.N. reports have exposed sexual exploitation and abuse by civilian and military U.N. personnel in places from Haiti to Darfur, with operations in the Central African Republic most recently in the headlines.

The new type of data collection that began in January, Dujarric said, is part of a U.N. initiative to increase transparency with regards to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

“We’re seeing allegations that date back a few years,” he said, because “people feel freer and safer to come forward.”

The U.N. has deployed victims rights advocates in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.

A dozen of the reported alleged cases happened in 2017, two last year and six more in 2015 or prior. Eleven have no known date, Dujarric said.

Ten of the cases involved sexual abuse and 19 sexual exploitation, with the remaining two unknown.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing Mary Milliken – Credit Thompson Reuters Trust)

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