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UN received 138 allegations of sexual misconduct in 2017
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations received 138 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in 2017, some involving multiple perpetrators and victims and over 40 percent arising from its peacekeeping missions, a U.N. report said Tuesday.The United Nations has been in the spotlight for several years over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuses by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Central African Republic and Congo.Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report that the 62 allegations against personnel deployed in 10 peacekeeping missions and one political mission was a decrease from the 104 allegations reported in 2016.Guterres said 75 allegations involved personnel from other U.N. bodies and their partners, including 25 allegations involving organizations implementing U.N. programs. This was an increase from 42 such allegations reported in 2016.One allegation of sexual violence was made against a member of a non-U.N. force operating under a U.N. Security Council mandate, "a substantial decrease from the 20 allegations reported in 2016," Guterres said.The U.N. chief said much remains to be done "to ensure the United Nations has its own house in order" and his "zero tolerance" policy for sexual misconduct becomes a reality."No individual serving under the United Nations flag should be associated with sexual exploitation and abuse," he said. "Combating this scourge continues to be one of my key priorities for 2018, as is assisting and empowering those who have been scarred by these egregious acts."A year ago, Guterres announced a new strategy for tackling sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers and staff and he said in the report it "is bearing fruit.""Nevertheless, incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse continue to occur, causing damage and distress to the people we have pledged to protect," Guterres said in the report to the U.N. General Assembly.The strategy, with prevention and accountability "at the core," called for a new focus on victims and banned alcohol and fraternization for troops.Guterres said that last year a "no excuses" card outlining the responsibilities and obligations of all U.N. personnel in preventing and reporting sexual exploitation and abuse was distributed in the U.N.'s six official languages as well as local languages to all U.N. staff that operate in the field.He cited the appointment last August of the first-ever victims' rights advocate and the deployment of advocates in the field.