This is old-ish news, but I don’t want it to fall off the collective map.
One hundred and fifty sexual abuse cases are under investigation by the United Nations, and the offenders are the peacekeepers themselves.
From the NYTimes:
Violators described in the investigation, which continues, appear to come from around the globe. Fifty countries are represented among the 1,000 civilian employees and 10,800 soldiers who make up the United Nations mission in Congo. Already, a French civilian has been accused of having sex with a girl, though it is unclear where that case stands, and two Tunisian peacekeepers have been sent home, where the local authorities will decide whether to punish them.
The United Nations report details allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers from Nepal, Pakistan, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Uruguay, and lists incidents in which some soldiers tried to obstruct investigators.
When they arrive for duty, peacekeepers are presented with the United Nations code of conduct, which forbids “any exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex.”
The home countries are responsible for punishing any of their military personnel who violate the code while taking part in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
The United Nations, which has had previous scandals in missions in Cambodia and Bosnia, also warns the soldiers against sexual contact with girls under 18, even though the law in Congo permits sex with girls as young as 14.
Accusations include rape, prostitution and pedophilia, and there is photographic and videographic evidence for some.
The NYTimes article also exposes one of the more uncomfortable aspects of this kind of widespread allegation, that some of the teen girls interviewed were comfortable with and liked the sex-for-money exchange with their foreign “boyfriends.”
Nonetheless, the most salient point is that even those designated to promote and preserve peace in war zones are not above the economic and sexual exploitation of war refugees. Even if those refugees are children. Should I be surprised?
The UN, already under extreme criticism from right-wing groups that endorse abandonment of the UN by the United States, cannot afford this loss of credibility. Most importantly, the refugees cannot afford to lose international support.
Related Reading: The UN position on women and violence.