U N finds 217 sex abuse claims against blue helmets

January 14, 2009

The Associated Press ( The new York Times )

GENEVA: A United Nations probe collected 217 allegations of abuse of girls and women by peacekeepers in eastern Congo, from sex with teenagers in the back room of a liquor store to threats of "hacking" victims for cooperating with investigators.

The 2006 investigation found many allegations credible and said evidence suggests "frequent and ongoing" sexual exploitation in the region. But it could only establish proof against one of 75 peacekeepers accused of wrongdoing.

Details of alleged incidents dating back to 2004 are summarized in a "strictly confidential" 17-page document.

It is dated Jan. 30, 2007, and was published Wednesday by whistleblower Web site Wikileaks.org. The report has previously been referred to by human rights organizations and the U.N. itself, but not made public. U.N. officials confirmed its authenticity.

Allegations of sex abuse and other crimes have dogged U.N. peacekeeping missions almost since their inception in 1948; the global body has in recent years adopted a "zero tolerance" approach.

The report cited a number of cases where victims may have been pressured or bribed to keep silent. "One victim informed (investigators) that she had received a message from a peacekeeper that he would 'hack them' if he ever saw them again," the report said.

Ten alleged victims, all girls below 18, were living at a liquor store that doubled as a brothel.

The United Nations mission in Congo has 22,000 soldiers and police from dozens of countries. It began in 1999 during a civil war that brought in neighboring countries seeking to exploit Congo's mineral wealth.

It is now the U.N.'s biggest peacekeeping mission and has recently dealt with a conflict partially fueled by festering ethnic hatred left over from the 1994 slaughter of a half-million Tutsis in neighboring Rwanda.

First appeared in The New York Times . Thanks to The Associated Press and The New York Times for covering this document. Copyright remains with the aforementioned. Contact www.nytimes.com for reprint rights.

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DR Congo transfers diplomatic mission from The Hague to Brussels

www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-14 21:12:40

KINSHASA, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has decided to transfer its diplomatic mission from the low-lying Netherlands to Belgium.

    Congolese Foreign Minister on Tuesday informed Ambassadress of the Netherlands Ellen Berend on the decision, saying DR Congo will close its embassy in The Hague and transfer its diplomatic activities to the mission in Brussels.

    The minister said the decision is part of the reorganization of the country's diplomatic missions in foreign countries.

Editor: Xiong


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