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UN official dismissed over sex abuse scandal

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NAIROBI, 18 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - A senior UN civilian official accused of sexual misconduct in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is no longer under investigations; another senior official has been dismissed, Fred Eckhard, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, announced on Thursday.

"Action has been taken against some 17 individuals at this point. The cases of three individuals have been closed following a full investigation," he said at UN headquarters in New York City.

The UN is also investigating 150 cases of abuse by soldiers in the UN Mission in DRC, known as MONUC. The allegations include gang rape by some 50 soldiers based in Bunia, a town in the northeastern district of Ituri.

In October, two Tunisian peacekeepers were sent home following a UN investigation into sexual abuse of minors. In February, six Moroccan soldiers serving in MONUC were arrested.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced in February that MONUC peacekeepers were banned from having sex with any locals. He also asked the UN Security Council to provide 100 military police and investigators to be sent to the DRC to "root out" the abuses.

The UN cannot discipline peacekeepers found to have committed abuses but it does send them to their country and requests their governments to take action. However, the UN will take action against some of its civilian staff accused of abuses.

"Six have been suspended without pay pending disciplinary action. One resigned rather than face disciplinary procedures, Eckhard said.

A French UN civilian official who was summarily dismissed is currently being prosecuted in France.


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