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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 17:56 GMT
Sudan to probe UN sex abuse claim
File image of a UN peacekeeper in DR Congo
The UN has investigated over 300 peacekeeping personnel worldwide
Sudan will launch its own investigation into allegations that UN peacekeepers in southern Sudan have been involved in the rape and sexual abuse of children.

A foreign ministry spokesman announced this as the UN disclosed it is probing 13 peacekeepers for misconduct.

The UN also said it had sent home four Bangladeshi peacekeepers after looking into similar allegations against them.

British newspaper the Daily Telegraph said the abuse began shortly after the UN mission arrived in March 2005.

This shows that our worries were very well founded
Ali El Sadiq
Foreign ministry spokesman

In an article earlier this week, it quoted an internal report by UN children's agency Unicef and cited interviews with 20 alleged victims, some as young as 12.

The UN has more than 10,000 police, peacekeepers and staffers from over 70 countries in southern Sudan.

They are there to enforce a 2005 peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war in the oil-rich south, that left an estimated 1.5m people dead.

'Facing justice'

"We have received this information with great concern and with anger," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali El Sadiq told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Darfur refugees in Djabal Refugee Camp in Chad
About 2.5 million people in Darfur have been made homeless

He said if UN peacekeepers were found guilty those involved "should be brought to justice".

UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said the Bangladeshis were repatriated several months ago.

"A case will be pursued in front of a national jurisdiction," she said, AP news agency reports.

"As of today, there are 13 ongoing investigations regarding allegations of serious misconduct including sexual exploitation and abuse," Ms Montas said.

There have been allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in places such as DR Congo, Haiti and Liberia.

Last month, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said there would be "zero tolerance" of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers.

The UN says it has investigated abuse allegations against 316 of its personnel since January 2004, 179 of whom have been disciplined.

Darfur force worries

While the UN has peacekeepers in the south, the government has long opposed the organisation taking over the African Union (AU) peace mission in the country's troubled western region of Darfur.


Mr El Sadiq said allegations of sexual abuse were one of the "many reasons" the government had been resisting full UN control in Darfur.

"This shows that our worries were very well founded as it is not new that UN peacekeepers some of them have been involved in such behaviour," he said.

But the government has agreed to a three-part plan to strengthen the current 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur with UN troops.

It will first to be augmented by dozens of UN experts and then expanded into a hybrid force, with UN troops providing logistical and other support.

More than 300,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in conflict in Darfur in just under four years.

'Zero tolerance' for UN sex abuse
05 Dec 06 |  Americas


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