UN South Sudan mission recalls police unit over sex abuse allegations

by Reuters
Saturday, 24 February 2018 14:15 GMT

A Ghanaian UN peacekeeper stands watch as children look on at a protection camp for displaced civilians in Bentiu, South Sudan June 18, 2017. REUTERS/David Lewis

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"UNMISS has informed U.N. headquarters in New York of the allegations"

NAIROBI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has recalled a Ghanaian police unit working at one of its protection camps while it investigates allegations that some of them were involved in sexual abuse, it said on Saturday.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said it had asked the 46-member unit to return to the capital Juba from its Protection of Civilians site in Wau, northwest of Juba, after an investigation was launched into a complaint that members of the unit were having sexual relations with women living at the camp.

UNMISS said in a statement that its head, David Shearer, and other mission leaders were briefed about the initial investigation and a decision was made to withdraw the unit from the site.

"The information received indicates that some members of the FPU (Formed Police Unit) allegedly engaged in transactional sex. This is a clear breach of the U.N. and UNMISS Code of Conduct which prohibits sexual relationships with vulnerable individuals, including all beneficiaries of assistance," it said.

"UNMISS has informed U.N. headquarters in New York of the allegations, which in turn notified the Member State that the matter was being investigated by the United Nations. There is no indication that this behaviour is more widespread within the Mission."

South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011, descended into civil war in 2013 months after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and a third of the population have fled their homes.

The United Nations has six civilian protection sites across the country, housing some 204,501 people.

UNMISS comprises over 17,000 peacekeeping personnel including 13,000 soldiers and 1500 police officers.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa, Editing by William Maclean)

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