Friday, January 5, 2007

UN troops in south Sudan raping children

UN troops in south Sudan raping children -report 03 Jan 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 2 (Reuters) - The Daily Telegraph of London reported on Tuesday that U.N. peacekeepers and civilian staff were raping and abusing children as young as 12 in southern Sudan. The newspaper, in a story posted on its Web site, 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 U.N. Peacekeeping Department in New York declined to comment. The report appeared on the first day of work for U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who this week became the world body's eighth secretary-general, succeeding Kofi Annan of Ghana.

There are more than 11,000 U.N. peacekeepers and police from some 70 countries in southern Sudan, enforcing a January 2005 peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war. The Telegraph said the first signs of sexual exploitation of local youths in southern Sudan emerged within months of the peacekeepers' arrival in March 2005. The U.N. Children's Fund UNICEF drafted an internal report detailing the problem, it said. The newspaper said Sudan's government had gathered evidence including video footage of U.N. workers having sex with young girls. But the United Nations has yet to publicly acknowledge there was a problem or even investigate, the newspaper said.

The United Nations, working with the African Union, is now pressing the Sudanese government to admit thousands more peacekeepers to its western Darfur region, where a separate civil war has raged for three years. The government has been resisting letting the reinforcements into Darfur, calling it an attempt to recolonize the vast northern African nation.

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