Author Topic: Cablegate Eritrea 2007:UNMEE: Confronting Sexual Abuse And Exploitation  (Read 2353 times)

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Offline jujyjuji

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Unmee: Confronting Sexual Abuse And Exploitation
Origin   Embassy Asmara (Eritrea)
Cable time   Mon, 23 Jul 2007 08:38 UTC
Classification   CONFIDENTIAL
References   07ASMARA56
Referenced by   08ASMARA29


C O N F I D E N T I A L ASMARA 000629
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2017
REF: A) STATE 89356 B) ASMARA 00056
Classified By: CDA Jennifer A. McIntyre, for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).
¶1. (U) The following is in response to reftel A.
¶2. (C) Since the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Mission
to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) in 2001, there have been few
reported incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and
trafficking in persons (TIP) within Eritrea.  The Chief of
the UNMEE Human Rights Office (HRO) Mamadi Diakite said that
there were no substantiated incidents of either SEA or TIP
during the reporting period, but that there continues to be
some new cases of UNMEE peacekeepers and civilian staff who
are pressured to provide financial support to children they
have fathered while in the country.
¶3. (U) UNMEE continues to require that all military personnel
participate in quarterly awareness and prevention programs,
which includes HIV/AIDS, SEA and TIP.  Civilian employees
receive similar training upon arrival at the mission.  Mr.
Mamadi said that the zero tolerance policy is heavily
stressed during training.
¶4. (U) There have been no formal changes in the panel
investigation system (see reftel B, para 4).  The Office of
Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has recently added a Conduct
and Disciplinary Unit (CDU) in Asmara that will check into
new cases of abuse.  The department has only been in place
for two weeks and has a staff of two.  Mr. Mamadi was not
certain of the role the CDU will play, other than it is
supposed to streamline the investigation of internal claims
of SEA and TIP and that it reports directly to DPKO and not
to his office.  At this time it is unclear whether the CDU or
the HRO will play the role on any investigative panels.
¶5. (U) UNMEE,s outreach efforts to the local population
continue to be extremely difficult (reftel B, para 5).  The
local media is completely controlled by the Government of the
State of Eritrea (GSE), leaving UNMEE with little capability
of making direct contact with the population.  The Eritrean
population,s perception of UNMEE remains unchanged (reftel
B, para 6), although many people worry about what will happen
if it loses its mandate.
¶6. (C)  Comment:  Mr. Mamadi (protect) painted a bleak
picture of how SEA and TIP cases are handled.  He said he has
been a member of eight previous peacekeeping forces, and has
found the working conditions in Eritrea to be the worst of
his career.  He claimed that the HRO has been blocked out of
most local investigations, which are almost always handled at
the sector level by the local commander or within the force
structure (up to and including the force commander).  The HRO
is only called upon if it has a needed area of expertise.
Although the zero tolerance policy is well accepted at
mission headquarters, it does not seem to filter down to
remote areas.  The force commanders often reassign personnel
accused of SEA to other commands within the mission.  In
other cases, local deals are struck.  In neither instance is
a case file kept.   In the majority of cases, HRO is not
informed of the facts, conclusions, recommendations, or
dispensations of the boards of inquiry.  HRO generally
becomes aware of cases through the complainant or a local
Eritrean official, after the fact and based on hearsay,
making it difficult to collect statistical data.   These
cases almost always concern the aftermath of a private
settlement (usually paternity) brokered by a local Eritrean
official and the sector commander, resulting from a
consensual sexual relationship.  The UNMEE soldier is often
repatriated to his country of origin, or rotated within the
mission, leaving the Eritrean mother with little or no
recourse for enforcing the settlement.  Mr. Mamadi added
that many of the incoming soldiers do not speak English which
is another area of concern, as the HRO staff is limited in
its ability to communicate with the soldiers and provide
necessary training.
¶7. (C) Comment con,t:  Mr. Mamadi (protect) also expressed
concerns that UNMEE management was creating an environment in
which HRO cannot effectively accomplish its mission.  The HRO
staff has been cut from 17 positions to a total of 10 for
2008 and the administrative staff has been reassigned,
leaving the HRO officers with administrative duties that take
away from their limited time in the field and prevent them
from carrying out their mandate.  Mr. Mamadi said that there
is little or no synchronization between the missions on the
Eritrean and Ethiopian sides of the border, and that this
artificial division has a negative impact on his ability to
investigate claims.  He indicated that empire-building is
rampant in the administration of the mission due to the lack
of an SRSG, and he stressed several times his wish that the
USG push for an appointment as a way to solve some of the
mission,s problems, as well as address the deteriorating
moral of the staff.  End Comment.