The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced today that an independent investigation has begun into allegations of violent sexual abuse by a soldier serving with the force in the troubled northeast of the country.
Investigators from the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) are already on the ground in Bunia, the capital of Ituri district, to conduct the probe, according to a press release issued by the mission (known as MONUC).
A MONUC peacekeeper based in Bunia is accused of violence and sexual exploitation and abuse against a woman on the night of 13-14 November.
“All allegations of this nature are taken very seriously by the mission,” the press statement said, stressing that OIOS investigators would receive the complete cooperation of MONUC in conducting their inquiries.
The UN has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers, and senior officials have reiterated in recent years that this means there is no impunity for blue helmets who engage in such practices.
MONUC, which was established in late 1999, is one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world. As of the end of last month, it had 18,382 serving personnel, including more than 16,000 troops.