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Sudan, UN coordinate on sexual exploitation probe

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Jan 6, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan said today it coordinates with the UN on the investigation with the soldiers affiliated to the United Nations on the alleged sexual abuse, the state-run SUNA said Saturday.

In a press statement, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ali Al-Saddiq, said that the authorities are investigating on weather or not the four UN troops were actually deported outside Sudan after their conviction in the rape crimes was proved.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday 2 January said it had gathered accounts from more than 20 young victims in the town of Juba of U.N. civilian and peacekeeping staff forcing them to have sex. The abuse allegedly began two years ago when the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) moved in to help rebuild the region after a 23-year civil war.

He said that the UN employees who commit crimes will be subjected to laws of the United Nations and the laws of their respective countries. Ambassador Al-Saddiq said that the accused UN soldiers will be referred for trial at courts in their respective countries after their conviction was proved.

On the other hand, State Minister at Federal Governance Ministry John Angol has described the alleged sexual exploitation as shocking.

Angol pointed out that the Daily Telegraph reported seeing a draft of an internal report compiled by UNICEF in July 2005 detailing the problem of child sexual abuse by UN staff in Southern Sudan, noting that the report was nearly a year old while UNMIS’ regional coordinator denied that there was anything of the kind.

He appreciated the firm stance taken by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who gave assurances that the UN position on sexual misconduct by its staff is zero tolerance, meaning zero complacency and zero impunity and his assurance that the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services is active on the ground in Southern Sudan.

The British regional co-ordinator for UNMIS, James Ellery, has refuted the claims, arguing that there is no substantiating evidence. "I will refute all claims made on this issue," he said in an interview last May. "We investigated all allegations made and no evidence was forthcoming. None of these claims can be substantiated. This is the most backward country in Africa and there are lots of misunderstandings as to the UN’s role. Over 90 per cent of people here are illiterate and rumours therefore spread very quickly." He told the Daily Telegraph.

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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