UNMISS investigates alleged sexual abuse in Aweil
Boosting the mission’s military strength, 266 Nepalese peacekeepers arrived at UNMISS on 4 February from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Photo: UNMISS/Isaac Billy
By Jale Richard
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has said it has started investigating the alleged sexual exploitation by some members of its Nepalese contingents in United Nations base in Aweil.
In a statement issued by the spokesperson yesterday, UNMISS said on 13th April, four teenagers were caught trying to enter the United Nations base in Aweil through the perimeter fence.
“It was alleged that one of the teenage girls had been touched inappropriately by a member of the Nepalese contingent in exchange for money. There was no allegation made of rape,” the statement said.
This latest allegation of sexual exploitation perpetrated by United Nations personnel comes in the wake of a major scandal sparked by Ghanaian police who were accused of sexually abusing women in the UN base in Wau in February.
UNMISS recalled the unit of Ghanaian police officers from Wau and confined them to base after a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation.
The government, civil society and women groups criticized the UN mission for the alleged sexual exploitation given that the mission was supposed to protect vulnerable groups such as women.
However, to the latest allegation in Aweil, UNMISS said it deployed a Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Immediate Response Team (IRT) to Aweil to gather information and preserve evidence prior to the launch of an investigation by the Troop Contributing Countries concerned.
The matter has also been reported to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), an agency that is independent from UNMISS.
The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has also been notified by the UN of the allegation and is in the process of appointing a team of National Investigation Officers who will conduct an investigation as per normal procedures relating to military contingents.
“UNMISS has a zero tolerance, no excuses and no second chances approach to sexual exploitation and abuse. It is committed to putting the victims’ rights and dignity first and ensuring that there is transparency and accountability for such actions,” the statement said.