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UN says 758 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse registered in 2023
Sexual Abuse
The Secretariat building with flags of Member States in the foreground, at UN Headquarters, in New York. Photo Courtesy: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

UN says 758 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse registered in 2023

| @indiablooms | 27 Mar 2024, 09:25 am

The UN received 758 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by staff last year, together with related personnel and partners, according to its latest report on the issue.

The findings published on Tuesday state that although progress has been made since 2017 through the establishment of new frameworks, policies and procedures, sexual exploitation and abuse continues to occur across the UN system.

Rising crises, rising risks

Risks increased significantly last year, with the unprecedented rise in humanitarian crises along with significant reductions in funding, especially in high-risk and complex contexts where the UN operates.

Last year, 758 allegations were received, compared to 534 the previous year and 265 in 2018.

Of the 2023 figure, more than half, 384, were related to UN staff and affiliated personnel.  The remainder concerned personnel from partners and non-UN military forces not under UN authority.

One hundred allegations were reported in peacekeeping and special political missions, compared to 79 in 2022.

Some 143 identified victims were associated with these allegations -115 adults and 28 children. 

Most allegations, 90 per cent, related to the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, and another in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA.

Prevention efforts continue

The report contains updates on the implementation of the UN Secretary-General's strategy to improve efforts in preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse.

“Our approach, which is centered on the rights and needs of victims, continues,” UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said during the daily media briefing in New York.

“We are intensifying efforts to uphold the rights of victims, and to end impunity. This also includes engagement with Member States to facilitate the resolution of paternity claims.”

Guterres upholds accountability

The Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator on improving UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, Christian Saunders, has commissioned a comprehensive assessment to determine how to best integrate the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in all UN activities and programmes.

The assessment will propose a strategy to ensure sustainable, effective prevention work across the UN system and options for predictable and adequate resourcing at headquarters and in the field.  

“Sexual exploitation and abuse violate everything the United Nations stands for,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message accompanying the report.

“It is up to all of us to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse from our work, support victims, and hold perpetrators and their enablers to account.”

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