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No sex with locals for peacekeepers

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NAIROBI, 10 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced on Wednesday that he has banned peacekeepers of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), known as MONUC, from fraternising with locals, UN News reported.

He was reacting to claims of widespread sexual abuse of women and girls.

In a letter to the Security Council, Annan also asked for another 100 military police and qualified French-speaking investigators to conduct self-monitoring programmes and "root out" the abuse.

UN News reported that in January, a report by the UN watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, found that MONUC personnel engaged in sexual exploitation of Congolese women and girls as young as 13.

The UN has investigated 150 allegations, including gang rape, made against some 50 soldiers based in DRC's northeastern town of Bunia.

The multidisciplinary team of investigators led by Assistant Secretary-General Angle Kane has tightened a no-fraternisation rule and imposed a curfew for military contingents. Recreation and welfare opportunities are to be developed "to alleviate the concentrated stress present in field missions".

Annan's letter spelt out the new regulations for more than 12,000 UN military personnel.

Annan declared his "personal outrage" at the abuse and reaffirmed his personal commitment to remain vigilant on this issue.


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