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UN receives 70 new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in three months

The United Nations received 70 new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse across all its entities and implementing partners, between the beginning of April to the end of June this year, UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, announced on Monday, with 18 cases involving peacekeeping operations, and 25 from “agencies, funds and programmes.”

“Please note that not all the allegations have been fully verified and many are in the preliminary assessment phase,” he explained to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, before announcing the breakdown of the 70 allegations.

A total of 43 allegations involve UN personnel; 24 relate to nn-UN personnel working for implementing partners; and three others relate to non-UN international forces, which have been authorised by a Security Council mandate.

Of these 70 reported incidents, 27 took place this year, nine in 2017, five in 2016, ten in 2015 and two 2 allegedly occurred in 2014. The date is unknown for 17 allegations.

The vast majority, 46, are categorized as sexual exploitation, defined as “any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another”.

Another 18 are categorized as sexual abuse, defined as “the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”. Another six were classified as “other” or of an unknown nature.

Women and girls suffer the most from this scourge, according to the figures presented by Mr. Haq. Out of a total of 84 reported victims, 46 are women, 17 are girls (under the age of 18), and 12 are females whose age is unknown. In addition, one boy (under the age of 18) and five males of an unknown age are also among the victims.

Out of 88 alleged perpetrators, all but eight are men, with four women and four individuals whose gender is unknown.

According to Mr. Haq, so far, three of the allegations have been substantiated through an investigation; two cases have not been substantiated, and four were closed due to other circumstances. The remaining 61 are at various stages of investigation or under preliminary review. A total of 16 allegations have been referred to the relevant Member States for action.

“We have continued our efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse,” said Mr. Haq. Regarding the UN’s commitment to end impunity, he explained that in June, the UN launched “an electronic tool for screening UN staff dismissed as a result of substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, or who resigned or were separated during an investigation”.