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Eight UN peacekeepers arrested for sexual abuse

On 1 October, 8 peacekeepers stationed in Beni (eastern DRC) were arrested; on 8 October, 1 officer was suspended in a case involving alleged sexual exploitation and abuse, according to MONUSCO internal documents.

They all belong to the South African contingent of UN forces and may be involved in what internal reports describe as a “systematic and widespread violation” of UN rules prohibiting exploitation and sexual violence. MONUSCO stated on Wednesday in a press release:

“The Office of Internal Oversight Services has been informed, and interim measures have already been taken in line with the UN Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy.”

The measures taken “include suspension, detention and custody of the peacekeepers concerned,” added MONUSCO, which strongly condemns such behaviour as unworthy of United Nations personnel.

One document states that “Soweto, Bloemfontein, Cape Town”, brothels with names reminiscent of South African cities, and “makeshift bars in front of MONUSCO’s Maviwi base, near Beni, are used for transactional sexual relations”.

The officer allegedly “intimidated and verbally threatened” UN staff following the arrest of peacekeepers in a brothel-visiting case. This resulted in an escape attempt, a fight and a chase with UN military police officers.

Since May this year, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has been calling on Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, including South Africa, to send troops to the DRC to support the Congolese army against the M23 rebels who have captured large parts of North Kivu province.

The DRC government blames the UN force for failing to end violence by armed groups after 25 years of presence, so is also demanding an “accelerated” withdrawal of UN forces from December this year.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, which was initially established during a civil war that lasted from 1998-2003, has some 17,000 personnel deployed in the east of the country where various militias and rebel groups continue to fight.


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