U.N. officials say eight peacekeepers have been suspended and detained in eastern Congo on allegations of sexual exploitation.
U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Thursday told reporters in New York that, “upon receiving information that contingent members from the U.N. peacekeeping force in the DRC deployed at a base in the eastern part of the country were fraternizing, after curfew hours, at an out of bounds bar known to be a place where transactional sex occurs, the U.N. Mission’s military police and conduct and discipline personnel visited the premises to assess the reports they had received.”
“After confirming their presence and attempting to detain the contingent members for breaching the U.N.’s standards of conduct and the Mission’s non-fraternization policy,” he said, “U.N. Mission personnel were physically assaulted and threatened by the contingent members.”
Dujarric added that, “there is also evidence indicating a serious failure in the exercise of command and control by senior military officials belonging to that same contingent.”
The peacekeepers have been confined pending further details and a full investigation.
A U.N. official, who was not authorized to speak about the specifics of the case, told The Associated Press the eight peacekeepers are from South Africa and that they were detained in the city of Beni in North Kivu province after being caught with prostitutes at an unauthorized bar after curfew.