In Burundi, Fréchette reviews steps taken by UN mission to prevent abuse

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette arrived today in Burundi, where she is expected to establish contacts with the Government and meet with UN peacekeepers as part of her ongoing tour to raise awareness about the Organization's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation.

Speaking to the press at the airport of the capitol, Bujumbura, Ms. Fréchette said she would be reviewing the situation of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) with its chief, Carolyn McAskie.

"I am aware that the UN mission in Burundi has taken several measures to ensure that the conduct of our staff conforms to the requirements of the Code of Conduct, Ms. Fréchette said. "I will have the opportunity to assess the situation with Ms. McAskie and her colleagues.

The Deputy Secretary-General's tour follows the release of a report prepared by the Secretary-General's advisor on the subject, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Ambassador of Jordan, in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers, particularly personnel stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The report, which was endorsed by UN General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping, calls for the establishment of Personnel Conduct Units in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) at UN Headquarters and in seven existing missions.

In addition, implementation of the report would require peacekeeping operations to broadly promote good conduct and discipline, and increase the accountability of managers and officers in this area, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his letter transmitting the report.

Ms. Fréchette said she looks forward to meeting with the entire staff on the issue. "But I can already conclude that the staff of this mission takes this message of the Secretary-General very seriously," she said.