July 3, 2020 / 8:15 AM / a month ago

U.N. suspends two Middle East peacekeeping staff over sexual misconduct

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Two male staff members of the U.N. peacekeeping operation in the Middle East have been placed on leave after an initial inquiry found they had engaged in sexual misconduct, a U.N. spokesman said.

The United Nations’ internal investigations office launched the inquiry after a video circulated on social media appearing to show a woman straddling a man in the back seat of a U.N.-marked vehicle as it was driven down a coastal boulevard in Tel Aviv.

“Two male international staff members who were in the UN vehicle in Tel Aviv have been identified as having engaged in misconduct, including conduct of a sexual nature,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement late on Thursday.

Dujarric said the video involved staff of the Jerusalem-based United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which provides military observers to monitoring missions in south Lebanon and the Golan Heights, according to its website.

Given the seriousness of the allegations, Dujarric added, the two were placed on administrative leave without pay, pending the conclusion of the investigation by the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services.

Asked for comment, a UNTSO spokeswoman referred to Dujarric’s statement.

UNTSO had earlier said that the “behavior seen in (the video) is abhorrent and goes against everything we stand for”.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Giles Elgood

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