UN peacekeepers in Haiti have been engaged in “transactional sex” with over 225 women and girls, who engaged in the activities to get things like food and medicine in return, a report reveals.
A third of the alleged sexual abuse by the UN’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) involved minors under 18, according to a new draft report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which was seen by the Associated Press.
The news agency reported on Tuesday that the information was collected by the OIOS, which last year interviewed 231 females in Haiti. The interviewees claimed they had been forced to carry out sexual acts with UN peacekeepers in return for basic necessities.
“For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the triggering need,” the report said.
It added that those living in the city or in its vicinity had sex in exchange for “church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.” The report did not explain, however, how the latter cases were considered abuse, as the items requested in exchange for the sexual activities do not categorize as basic necessities.
The report further stressed that sexual exploitation by some 125,000 UN peacekeepers around the globe remains significantly underreported in such missions, suggesting that the real number of those abused in Haiti may be higher.
“Only seven interviewees knew about the United Nations policy prohibiting sexual exploitation and abuse,” the report noted, emphasizing that none of the interviewees knew about the mission’s hotline to report abuse.
Although the 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti started in 2004, the number of peacekeepers involved in and the time frame of the alleged violations are not cited in the report. Neither is the nationality or nationalities of those forces involved in the abuse.
In response to the report’s findings, UN peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous and Field Support chief Atul Khare said that while the number of peacekeepers has risen dramatically over the past decade, the number of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation has dropped.
The number of documented cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers was 51 in 2014, down from 66 in the previous year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the latest annual report on the issue.
A UN report revealed in April that troops from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea, working as UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR), allegedly engaged in the sexual abuse of hungry refugee children at a center for internally-displaced people in the African country’s capital, Bangui, between December 2013 and June 2014.
Source: UN peacekeepers sexually abused 225 Haitian women and girls