The United Nations has commended Sri Lanka for arranging a one-time ex-gratia payment to a victim and child born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers from Sri Lanka.
Briefing the General Assembly on the challenges being faced and progress being made to end the exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, senior UN officials indicated that immediate concerns have been focused on providing protection and support to the victims, and reiterated the need for collective efforts to put stronger measures in place to ensure prevention and greater accountability.
Speaking at an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, emphasized that the priority must be for the Organization to provide victims with support and assistance.
“First and foremost, the victims – many of whom are children – need our protection and support,” he said. “The provision of assistance to victims is an area where experience has shown that the United Nations needs additional resources and strong collaboration among peacekeeping, the United Nations and local actors to have a tangible impact.”
Khare noted that the trust fund to support the provision of services to victims is operational, and that Member States have been requested to consider making contributions. He said he has also instructed field missions to respond to the immediate needs of victims using their existing resources.
Khare highlighted that in 2015, the UN had made progress in facilitating paternity and child support claims against peacekeepers. He commended Sri Lanka in particular, which he said has arranged a one-time ex-gratia payment to a victim and child born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Reiterating that there can be no impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse, Khare stressed that if allegations are substantiated, the Organization “takes all action within its control.”
Khare also said that in the face of allegations, the Secretariat has requested Member States to appoint National Investigation Officers (NIOs) within five days, rather than the ten-day period normally required by the Memorandum of Understanding. (Colombo Gazette)