UN official quits amid sex abuse row

  • 23/07/2015
Elavia Pansieri (Reuters)
Elavia Pansieri (Reuters)

A top UN official who was allegedly informed of a sex abuse scandal before it became public, is resigning, a spokeswoman for the United Nations says.

Flavia Pansieri, the No.2 at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, is stepping down for health reasons, UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said on Wednesday (local time).

Her resignation comes as the global body faces criticism over how it reacted to the allegations of child sex abuse in the Central African Republic.

"I can confirm that Flavia Pansieri has resigned and she cited health reasons for her resignation," Maestracci said.

Pansieri, a long time UN worker named to her position three years ago, was informed of allegations of child sex abuse carried out by French soldiers in CAR in the summer of 2014.

A Swedish diplomat working for the commissioner who authored the report was punished for not respecting the body's protocols.

The UN's handling of the incident, brought to light by The Guardian newspaper, was widely criticised by aid groups.

The United States and several aid agencies called for the United Nations to carry out a thorough investigation into the sex scandal, and the global body set up an independent commission last month to conduct an internal review.

France is also conducting an investigation.

Maestracci said she could not confirm if Pansieri testified before the UN commission, which is expected to report its findings in September.

Over a dozen French soldiers sent to the Central African Republic to help restore order in 2013 after a coup are accused of sexual abuse of children as young as eight years old who were begging for food.

The soldiers were not under the control of the United Nations.

The UN report also accused soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea, an aid group that saw the report said.

US envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power recently said the claims contained in the UN report on the incident were "very credible and very disturbing".