By Harrison Arubu
The United Nations said it had received 37 petitions on alleged sexual exploitation and abuse against its personnel in the first quarter of 2019, according to one of its spokespersons.
Mr Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the organisation, disclosed this at a news conference in New York on Thursday.
The alleged offenders, according to Haq, include civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping as well as personnel of agencies, funds and programmes.
He quickly noted that not all the allegations reported had been fully substantiated, and that many were in the preliminary stage of assessment.
“Of the 37 allegations, there are 49 victims: 28 women and 11 girls, one boy, seven females of unknown age, one unknown adult and one unknown child.
“Sixteen of these allegations are categorised as sexual abuse, 27 as sexual exploitation, four are of an unknown nature, and two have been categorised as “other”, of which one was closed.
“Of these 37 allegations, one has been substantiated through an investigation and has been referred to the Member State,’’ the spokesperson said.
He added that four of the allegations were not substantiated; 26 at various stages of investigation, and six under preliminary assessment to determine if there is sufficient information to investigate.
Haq stated that the world body also received 33 allegations, involving 37 victims and 38 perpetrators, against non-UN personnel working as implementing partners.
Meanwhile, the UN has continued to intensify efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, according to Haq.
“In March, the 2018 Secretary-General’s special measures for protection from sexual exploitation report was released, which contains updates to the information provided in the previous reports.
“This includes prioritising the rights and dignity of victims, ending impunity, engaging with member states, civil society and external partners and improving strategic communication for education and transparency.
“We are also continuing our efforts to engage with member states and encourage their Heads of State and Government to join the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership, on prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations, which now stands at 74 members.
“The Secretary-General also continues to encourage member states to become signatories to the Voluntary Compact with the Secretary-General of the UN on the Commitment to Eliminate Sexual Exploitation and Abuse,” he said.
Haq said so far, 101 out of the 193 members of the UN have committed to the Voluntary Compact.