Probe launched into sexual abuse allegations against UN mission staff in DR of Congo

7 May 2004 – The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has launched a comprehensive investigation into reported instances of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of civilians, including minors, by its personnel in Bunia, in the northeastern part of the country.

The Mission is determined to enforce Secretary-General Kofi Annan's policy of zero tolerance of any sexual misconduct, in accordance with his bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of last October, a UN spokesman said in New York.

MONUC "is committed to completing a full and thorough investigation as a matter of urgency, and to applying all available sanctions against any of its personnel found responsible," Fred Eckhard said.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the humanitarian situation of tens of thousands of Congolese expelled from neighbouring Angola over these past few weeks appeared to be stabilizing.

The number of expellees entering into one of the main entry points has decreased to dozens of persons crossing each day, down from a rate of hundreds.

Since the expulsions began in March, some 67,000 Congolese have been registered by local crisis committees along the border. Official estimates indicate that up to 100,000 Congolese migrant diamond workers have been or will be expelled from Angola.

UN agencies, such as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), along with other humanitarian partners are continuing to deliver aid where possible.

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