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MONUC appeals for confidence after sexual abuse allegation
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12:56, August 16, 2008

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The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday appealed to the local people to maintain confidence in the mission after the recent sexual misconduct allegation.

Michel Bonnardeau, spokesman for the UN mission in the West African nation known as MONUC, told local television Tropicana that the popularity of peacekeepers could not be compromised by some elements involved in the scandal.

The spokesman appealed to Congolese for confidence and consideration of sacrifices by the mission in its efforts to restore peace in the country.

Those soldiers are in the course of being repatriated "for trial in their country of origin in conformity to the accord on the state of MONUC force signed between the DR Congo and the MONUC," he said.

An investigation had found prima facie evidence that some Indian members of the MONUC may have engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse in the eastern part of the country, a UN statement said on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the statement that the Indian government had assured the world body that the allegations would be promptly and thoroughly investigated and, if proven, strict and exemplary action would be taken as per law.

The mission is adopting measures to stamp out sexual abuse by peacekeepers, including establishing "out-of-bounds areas" for troops, imposing curfews to prevent them leaving their barracks after a certain hour, and forbidding them from going out in civilian clothes.

MONUC, established in late 1999, is one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world.


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