San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
United Nations

UN peacekeepers routinely trade sex for goods

UNITED NATIONS – U.N. peacekeepers routinely trade sex for money, jewelry, cellphones and other items in countries where they are deployed in clear violation of U.N. rules, according to a draft U.N. report.

A third of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. personnel involve a minor under 18, according to the report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) obtained by AFP on Thursday.

Interviews done with victims in Haiti and Liberia suggest that the United Nations is underreporting cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeeping personnel.

In Haiti, 231 people admitted to having “transactional sexual relationships” with peacekeeping personnel in exchange for “jewellery, ‘church’ shoes, dresses, fancy underwear, perfume, cell phones, radios, televisions and, in a few cases, laptops.”

Women interviewed in the report said they were hungry, homeless or needed items for their babies or their households.

A survey of 489 women aged 18 to 30 in Monrovia showed that over a quarter of the city’s women had engaged in sex with U.N. peacekeepers, usually for money.

In Liberia, women who engaged in sex with the peacekeepers were not poorer than others and also viewed the mission “more favorably” than women who did not have sexual relations, the study showed.

The report noted that some women in Haiti “withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media” if the men refused to pay.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP

Underreporting of cases 

“Evidence from two peacekeeping missions demonstrates that transactional sex is quite common but underreported in peacekeeping missions,” said the draft report dated May 15.

There were 480 allegations of sexual abuse from 2008 and 2013 with the largest missions registering high numbers of cases, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Haiti, Sudan and South Sudan.

The OIOS noted that civilians serving in missions account for 33 percent of all allegations, even though they only represent 17 percent of the mission’s personnel.

U.N. peacekeeping officials have pointed to a drop in cases of sexual abuse from 127 in 2007 to 51 last year, but the reductions “are partly explained by underreporting,” said the OIOS.

The United Nations began issuing rules 10 years ago to the blue helmets that “strongly discourage sexual relations” between U.N. personnel and the people that they are helping.

But the report cited widespread confusion among U.N. peacekeepers on the boundaries that should not be crossed.

There was a “general view that people should have romantic rights” and U.N. staff “raised the issue of sexuality as a human right,” it added.

The final report to be released on Monday coincides with an outcry over allegations of child sexual abuse by French and African troops in the Central African Republic.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has ordered an independent external review after the United Nations admitted that those cases were poorly handled.

The United Nations has 125,000 peacekeepers deployed in 16 missions worldwide.

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Jason Hopkins

So how does the government of the US get brought into this? We do not do peacekeeping since craotia. And if we want to talk corruption then where does all the tax money that Costa Rica takes in go? Into infrastructure…don’t think so…defense spendung…nope you have a defensive alliance with the US to cover that. I love how so many Costa Ricans believe that the US is some evil empire and that everything wrong with the world is the US’s fault. If you notice the country patch on the US soldiers they are from Chili. The us soldiers are some of the most disciplined soldiers on the planet. Yes there are some instances of people doing wrong but as a whole they protect the innocent. Who do you think will come to Costa Rica’s aid if and when Nicaragua decides to finally come for this country?

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Dan Gibson

The United Nations had been nothing more than a cesspool of corruption and egos for the entire time it has been in place — much like the government of the US — not one part of the entire UN system — ”functions properly” — I vote to move the United Nations to Africa — where it will be right at home — the good people of Africa deserve to have their concerns recognized — and what other entity but the UN should be right there to take care of them –!!

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