- There has been a sharp decline in the number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) staff in the last half of last year, a report revealed.
The latest UNMIL sexual exploitation and abuse report was a complete variance of what happened during the same period in 2006.
From July to December 2007, only two UNMIL-related allegations were reported compared to nine incidents during the same period in 2006.
The report was part of UNMIL's efforts to keep the public informed about the measures it had taken to eradicate incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation within its ranks.
In recent years, allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation involving UN peacekeepers have become unbecoming, which was why conduct units have been set up in all major UN peacekeeping operations.
But the UN takes such allegations seriously. And according to a press statement, investigations into the two recorded allegations have been completed by UNMIL military police and that the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) is reviewing the report.
Having completed investigating five of the seven allegations reported in the first half of last year, OIOS has recommended appropriate disciplinary action in the two substantiated cases.
UNMIL Officer-in-Charge, Major General Muhammad Tahir hailed the decrease in allegations, assuring that there would be no room for complacency.
“We will continue to exert every effort with the government of Liberia, other local and international partners to ensure that any sexual misconduct involving UNMIL personnel is stopped,” Major General Tahir told the UN website.
He expressed the mission's resolve to continue sensitizing the local population - especially women and children - to present sexual exploitation and abuse throughout Liberia.
“We take seriously our moral obligation to care for and protect the people of Liberia from any harm that may result from our presence here."
UNMIL's Conduct and Discipline Unit has been embarking on outreach programmes that targets several local groups including youth and women groups and traditional healers. New members of the mission go through compulsory induction training on sexual exploitation and abuse.
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