UN: UN human rights chief refutes deputy's resignation over child abuses in CAR

New York, US (PANA) - The UN human rights chief, Zeid Al-Hussein, on Friday said questions
over the UN's handling of abuse allegations by French peacekeeping troops in Central African
Republic (CAR) has nothing to do with the recent resignation of UN deputy human rights chief,
Ms. Flavia Pansieri.

PANA recalled that a Geneva-based NGO, UN Watch, and some media reports have this week
attributed the resignation of Ms. Pansieri to her admission that she did nothing after receiving
reports of child rape by French soldiers in CAR because she was distracted by budget cuts.

The NGO stated: "Not only did Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, fail to act, but she was part of a coterie of top UN officials who punished the only
member of her office who sounded the alarm, veteran staffer Anders Kompass, by firing him."

"Therefore, to the extent that Ms. Pansieri is in fact resigning over her office's shameful
inaction, indifference and cover-up concerning the rape of children by peacekeepers, then
today marks a small step toward greater accountability for malfeasance by UN officials," it stated.

However, in a statement, obtained by PANA in New York on Friday, Al-Hussein dismissed media insinuations surrounding the departure of Ms. Pansieri, noting that, "recurrent serious health problems had in fact forced her to resign."

"Ms Pansieri has been very ill since the beginning of the year and has needed emergency
hospital treatment twice," he disclosed.

Following the resignation of Ms. Pansieri on Wednesday, the UN human rights chief said that every single media report about her had insinuated it was because of her handling of abuse allegations relating to French troops in CAR.

"That is not the case," he stressed.

In a bid to set the record straight, he explained that "Ms. Pansieri has been suffering from three separate serious medical conditions and has twice needed emergency hospital treatment.

Al-Hussein also added: "Earlier this month, Ms Pansieri had surgery for a detached retina."

Also, UN human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville stated: "Since every single article published about her resignation has made that link, that she resigned because of the child abuses in CAR, and either said or strongly implied that the reasons relating to her personal health were simply an excuse."

"But, she has authorized me to give a little more information about her health, something which, as would be the case with most of us she would have preferred to remain private," he said.

Colville noted that Ms. Pansieri had came out of retirement to take up her position, but given her current state of health, she felt she could not guarantee that she will regain the energy and stamina required to fulfil her duties.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 24July2015

24 july 2015 16:00:23

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