The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) trained some 820 South African peacekeepers on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse ahead of the contingent’s deployment to the peacekeeping mission in June 2017.
At the request of the troop-contributing country, the two-day session held at the South African Defence Forces (SADF) mobilization base in Bloemfontein on May 8th and 9th 2017 was led by a visiting officer from MONUSCO’s Conduct and Discipline Team to ensure the incoming troops fully understand and adhere to the UN’s strict ‘zero tolerance’ policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
“As per standard practice, we train peacekeepers when they arrive in the Mission and we also verify that their country has briefed them on the UN standards of conduct and the zero-tolerance policy during their routine pre-deployment training,” explained Conduct and Discipline Officer Andrew Awuah. “However, it is important to highlight that the Republic of South Africa requested our assistance in delivering this dedicated training in situ,” he said upon his return from South Africa.
All ranks of the contingent to be deployed took part in the training, including its top-ranking officers who were specifically reminded of their critical role in maintaining discipline among all ranks. They were also briefed on mitigating risks and adopting robust command and control measures in their base camps to monitor movements and activities of all ranks.
Incoming peacekeepers were briefed on incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse over the past five years, which do untold harm to victims and communities and which “undermine the hard work of other uniformed personnel and threaten the image and credibility of the country within the DRC and abroad,” stressed Andrew Awuah.
“We are here because we must, all of us together, reverse the negative narrative about the Republic of South Africa military contingent members in MONUSCO”, said Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Tigele, in his address to troops, who were also briefed on preventive measures within MONUSCO including curfew regimes, out-of-bounds areas and the Force Commander’s non-fraternization policy.
The consequences of sexual exploitation and abuse for the victim, the perpetrator and the United Nations were also highlighted and troops were reminded of their obligation to report all incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse to the Mission, including to the chain of command.
Over 1,100 South African peacekeepers serve under the UN flag in the Democratic Republic of Congo.