Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) against personnel serving with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have fallen, according to a new report from the mission.
Five allegations were made between January and June 2008, as compared to the second half of 2007 when nine were reported.
Ellen Margrethe Løj, who heads UNMIL, said that “we are happy with the number of reported SEA allegations has gone down,” but noted that “we are concerned about the possibility of under-reporting.”
She added that the mission will ensure that the necessary disciplinary measures are taken if any misconduct is proven.
UNMIL personnel are instructed to follow the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on SEA, and receive compulsory training upon induction. Between January and June of this year, over 23,000 of UNMIL’s military personnel went though an integrated mission programme on abuse.
To sensitize Liberian communities about SEA, the mission has trained 700 members of 45 local organizations on prevention and reporting, who in turn will educate their own communities.
These training sessions – targeting people in close proximity to UN installations and border areas – were conducted by UNMIL’s Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) and focused on raising awareness of abuse-related issues and boosting local communities’ capacity to respond to SEA incidents involving the mission’s personnel.
As of 31 July, UNMIL had 12,815 uniformed personnel, 1,086 police, 496 international civilian personnel, 939 local staff and 210 UN Volunteers (UNV).