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The UN Will Investigate Reports It Did Not Respond To Rapes In South Sudan

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an independent investigation on Tuesday, based on a "fact-finding mission" that nobody had details about.

Posted on August 17, 2016, at 4:27 p.m. ET

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced Tuesday that he will appoint an independent special investigation into reports that the UN failed to respond to calls for help from humanitarian workers being attacked in South Sudan in July.

Ozan Kose / AFP / Getty Images

Ban said in a statement he was "alarmed" that humanitarian workers were reportedly beaten, attacked, and raped in a compound in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, after fighting broke out there last month, and said he is "concerned about the allegations" that the UN did not respond.

Ban also said he was responding to the "preliminary findings" of an "internal fact-finding mission" on the incident, but the UN had no further details about that fact-finding mission.

Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP / Getty Images

Officials at the UN said the investigation began on or after July 14. That was when Stephane Dujarric, Ban's spokesman, announced that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had received reports about attacks, including sexual assault, against staff of national and international organizations. "The Mission is looking into these incidents, including its own response," Dujarric's statement said.

An official with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), which oversees UNMISS, said "looking into these incidents" in this case means launching a preliminary investigation. But she was unable to confirm that investigation's start date, its end date, or the date on which its preliminary findings were communicated to the secretary-general before his announcement on Tuesday.

She confirmed that the final report is expected to be received this week, after which Ban will appoint a special independent panel whose own final report will be made public. There is as of yet no time frame for that report.

The announcement came after uproar on Monday over an Associated Press article documenting the targeted attack of foreigners, including multiple rapes.

Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP / Getty Images

The article quotes extensively from an UNMISS security log, documenting both the calls it received while the attack was in progress and the mission's decision not to respond to those calls for help.

At Monday's daily briefing, at UN headquarters in New York, Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said, "There's clearly a need to investigate exactly the totality of everything we've done and see what could have been done better."

Answering a reporter's question about whether the investigation was "triggered" by the AP article, Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said, "I don't think that that's fair. I think part of what was happening is that the facts uncovered by the UN Mission prompted the people here at Headquarters to believe that something more is needed."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.