By Felix Ifijeh
The United Nations (UN) has commenced investigation into video of a couple having sex in one of its official cars in Israel.
The people caught on camera are believed to be staff members of a peacekeeping organization in Israel.
The short video shows a woman in a red dress straddling a man in the back seat of the white SUV bearing the “UN” inscription. With them in the moving vehicle are the driver and a bald-head man sitting on the passenger side in front.
Media reports said the footage was recorded at night on HaYarkon Street, a major thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, although the UN said its authenticity had not been confirmed.
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, in a statement to reporters in New York confirmed that the short video clip which runs less than half a minute, featured a 4×4 vehicle, containing personnel “likely assigned to the UN Truce Supervision
“We are shocked and deeply disturbed by what is seen on the video”, said Mr. Dujarric.
“The behaviour seen in it is abhorrent and goes against everything that we stand for and having been working to achieve in terms of fighting misconduct by UN staff
“We became aware of the video a little bit more than two days ago and our colleagues in the Office of Internal Oversight Services, OIOS, were immediately activated. Their investigation I know is moving very quickly. We know the location of the incident with the identification of individuals in the video, who are likely assigned to the UNTSO, is close to being completed
“As part of the UN’s commitment to transparency, the UN will provide updates on the conclusion of the investigation, and any further action”, he added.
The Spokesperson said the probe by OIOS was expected to end “very quickly” and that “prompt appropriate action” would be taken.
Dujarric confirmed that the video featured a 4×4 vehicle, containing personnel “likely assigned to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO)”.
In a statement, UNTSO said it was committed to the UN’s zero-tolerance policy against any kind of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse.
It reminded its personnel of their obligations to the UN Code of Conduct.
The UNTSO, headquartered in Jerusalem is the first ever peacekeeping mission established by the UN in 1948, comprising Military Observers to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements and prevent military escalation. UNTSO is headquartered in Jerusalem.
It has 153 Military Observers, 91 international civilian personnel and 153 national staff, according to UN figures, drawing troops from more than two dozen countries. Observers are deployed to UN missions at the border between Israel and Lebanon, as well as in the Golan.
BBC reports that the UN has strict policies against sexual misconduct by its staff members, and workers may be disciplined or possibly banned from peacekeeping operations if they are found to be in breach of the rules.
The inter-governmental organization has been plagued with allegations of sexual misconduct by its peacekeepers and other staff in recent years. In 2019, there were a total of 175 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against UN staff members. Of those allegations, 16 were substantiated, 15 were unsubstantiated and the others are still being investigated.