January 18, 2017
B. STATE 0993 Classified By: CDA C. Hume, Reason: Section 1.4 (b) and (d) ——- Summary ——- 1. (U) After a UK newspaper reported that UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) personnel engaged in sexual exploitation of children, the UN confirmed that four Bangladeshi peacekeepers had been repatriated over the charges and that their cases will be pursued in Bangladesh.
The UN also confirmed that there are 13 ongoing investigations of serious misconduct, “including sexual exploitation and abuse.” Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) officials expressed outrage over the allegations, and the fact that UNMIS did not inform them of the problem earlier. GOSS officials, and some independent observers, also question the timing of the press report, which they believe was intended to discredit the UN. The Khartoum-based Government of National Unity (GNU) seized the opportunity to bash the UN and sanctioned a public demonstration over the abuse allegations in Khartoum January
- The GNU’s outrage apparently does not extend to allegations of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) involvement in sexual abuse of children in the south. UNMIS and other UN agencies in southern Sudan are reviewing and beefing up their existing program to combat sexual abuse. End Summary. ———————————- Press Reports Spark Angry Response ———————————- 2. (U) The UK’s Daily Telegraph reported January 2 that it had gathered accounts from more than 20 children in Juba, southern Sudan, describing prostitution and other sexual abuse by UNMIS military and civilian personnel.
The report added that the Sudanese government in Khartoum had video footage of Bangladeshi UN personnel having sex with three young girls. The newspaper story cited what it called a draft internal report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in July 2005 detailing UN sexual offenses. Since the Daily Telegraph report, other media have published similar allegations, including a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) account describing UN solicitation of child prostitutes in Juba and mixed-race children abandoned by their UN peacekeeper fathers. 3.
(U) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on only his second day in office, quickly issued a statement reiterated the UN’s “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual abuse–“meaning zero complacency and zero impunity.” The statement said the UN was “looking into the substance of the press reports to determine if the allegations are new or are existing cases already under investigation.” A UN spokesperson later revealed that UNMIS had “already repatriated four peacekeepers from Bangladesh” in connection with the allegations, and said there were 13 ongoing investigations of serious misconduct, “including sexual misconduct and abuse.”
- (C) GOSS officials were outraged over the reports. Minister of Presidential Affairs Luca Biong vowed that “if any persons are proved to have committed these terrible crimes, the government will take all possible steps to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.” GOSS Minister of Gender Mary Kiden Kimbo summoned UNMIS and UNICEF officials for a tongue-lashing and demanded full disclosure of all complaints against UN personnel. She had learned of these charges only through the media, Kiden told us, and was not aware of the reported 13 ongoing investigations until informed by ConGen staff.
Kiden later called on members of the public to come forward with any additional information about sexual misbehavior by UN personnel. ————————– Questions on the Substance And Timing of Allegations ————————– 5. (C) GOSS officials nevertheless question both the substance and the timing of the Daily Telegraph report. Research on the story was apparently finished long ago, Kiden told us. She had been interviewed for the story in March 2006 and told the journalist truthfully that she was aware of no specific allegations against UN personnel. UNMIS regional coordinator James Ellery, interviewed in May 2006, told the journalist UNMIS had investigated allegations against its personnel and found no substantiating evidence. Ellery KHARTOUM 00000031 002 OF 002 departed Sudan last October.
The July 2005 UNICEF report cited in the newspaper story was issued before the GOSS was formed, Kiden pointed out indignantly. (The Daily Telegraph asserted that GOSS failed to investigate the charges because of concern over maintaining good relations with the UN.) 6. (C) CDA raised the issue of sexual abuse with Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) for the United Nations (UN) in Sudan Manuel Aranda d,Silva January 5 (Ref. A). D’Silva said many of the allegations in the article were false, and claimed that the January 3 release was timed to coincide with the swearing in of the new UNSYG. An independent Sudanese newspaper has speculated that the GNU leaked the information to undermine current efforts to deploy UN peacekeeping force to Darfur. 7. (C) ConGen staff examined the July 2005 “UNICEF report” quoted by Daily Telegraph. Though identified as the work of a “UNICEF Child Protection Consultant,” the document is in fact a three-page summary of the consultant’s findings drafted by UNMIS, according Juba-based UNICEF personnel.
In two short paragraphs the document cites the possibility that UN staff “may be involved in sexual exploitation,” and recounts a single instance in which a UN vehicle was reported seen picking up three young girls at night. The remainder of the document includes far more detailed allegations against members of the Khartoum-based Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), including child abduction, child prostitution, and the abandonment of girlfriends and children. It is unclear why those allegations are not mentioned in the article. 8. (C) UNICEF personnel believe this report has been shared with the GNU, and that the GNU is aware of allegations of misbehavior by SAF forces. (
They add that GOSS is also likely aware of misbehavior by the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and that neither government is taking effective action to prevent child exploitation by its forces.) The GNU sanctioned a public demonstration against the UN over the sex abuse scandal in downtown Khartoum January 8. The demonstration ended without incident. ———- Next Steps ———- 9. (U) GOSS and UN investigations of reports in the Daily Telegraph and other media are underway, but in early stages. UNMIS personnel receive training on the UN code of conduct prior to deployment, the Sector 1 commander told us January 5. That training will be reinforced immediately, he said.
UNICEF staff say that all UN personnel in southern Sudan are briefed on the “zero tolerance” policy, and posters against sexual exploitation figure prominently in UNMIS and other UN offices in Juba. Since mid-2005, UN personnel have been banned from two locations in Juba believed to be frequented by prostitutes. Neither the Sector 1 commander nor other UN personnel in Sudan appear to know whether the four deported Bangladeshi peacekeepers are in fact facing criminal charges in their native country. UNMIS has promised much closer cooperation with GNU and GOSS in ongoing investigations of specific cases of alleged abuse, and GOSS officials say they will continue public outreach and increase their own monitoring of UN behavior. Finally, Bangladeshi peacekeepers in southern Sudan have been confined to barracks after dark until further notice. HUME