A new report by the UN’s Office Internal Oversight Office (OIOS) has uncovered hundreds of allegations against UN Peacekeepers for engaging in prostitution or “transactional sex” with the people they serve, many of whom are minors.
The report is set to be released later this month but was acquired by the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
The OIOS report said 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were made between 2008 and 2013. A third of those allegations involved children.
The countries with the largest numbers of allegations were Liberia, Haiti, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This report comes weeks after UN whistleblower, Anders Kompass, leaked to the media a report detailing sexual abuses carried out by French soldiers in the Central African Republic.
According to the AP, the UN report shows that 231 people interviewed in Haiti last year said that they had “transactional sex” with UN Peacekeepers.
The so-called Peacekeepers provided the exploited people with “cell phones, perfume, and church shoes” in exchange for sexual activities.
“In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of Peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media,” AP quotes the draft report.
Transactional sex, better known as prostitution, which involves an “exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex” is prohibited according to UN policy.
The Secretary General, in a Press Release, stated, “these abhorrent acts are a violation of the fundamental duty of care that all United Nations Peacekeeping personnel owe to the local population that they are sent to serve”
Unfortunately “evidence from two Peacekeeping mission countries demonstrates that transactional sex is quite common but underreported in Peacekeeping missions,” news agency Reuters quotes the draft as saying.
Even worse, there is immunity from prosecution for Peacekeepers that are deployed on UN Peacekeeping missions. Peacekeepers who commit crimes cannot be held accountable in the countries where those crimes are committed.
The UN currently has an estimated number of 125,000 Peacekeepers deployed in several countries around the world.