UN Peacekeepers and US Embassy “Ignored Cries Of Help” From Aid Workers As They Are Raped And Murdered
By Graham Vanbergen – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has quite clearly stated that sexual abuse by peacekeepers is “a cancer in our system.” In August 2015 a top U.N. official was fired for failing to take enough action on abuse cases. Around 1,000 troops whose units have been tied to abuses have been expelled. Among them is the entire contingent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And yet the scandal continues to plague the United nations in its inability or lack of will to stamp out these horrific crimes.
A good case in point is this awful press report from NAIROBI, Kenya (AP)
The soldier pointed his AK-47 at the female aid worker and gave her a choice. “Either you have sex with me, or we make every man here rape you and then we shoot you in the head,” she remembers him saying.
She didn’t really have a choice. By the end of the evening, she had been raped by 15 South Sudanese soldiers.
On July 11, South Sudanese troops, fresh from winning a battle in the capital, Juba, over opposition forces, went on a nearly four-hour rampage through a residential compound popular with foreigners, in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan’s three-year civil war. They shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions, several witnesses told The Associated Press.
For hours throughout the assault, the U.N. peacekeeping force stationed less than a mile away refused to respond to desperate calls for help. Neither did embassies, including the U.S. Embassy.
The accounts highlight, in raw detail, the failure of the U.N. peacekeeping force to uphold its core mandate of protecting civilians, notably those just a few minutes’ drive away. The Associated Press previously reported that U.N. peacekeepers in Juba did not stop the rapes of local women by soldiers outside the U.N.’s main camp last month.
So many children have been raped in the Central African Republic (CAR) that the UN actually called them “Peacekeeper babies” where its own employees have been accused of raping dozens of underage girls.
“It’s a horrible thing,” says an elfin 14-year-old girl, who describes how a Burundian soldier dragged her into his barracks and raped her, leaving her pregnant with the baby boy she now cradles uncomfortably.
The Washington Post reported that UN peacekeeping staff were swapping food for sex “while their country was rocked by civil war and families were going hungry”. And where this happens United Nations staff do not record rape but as “transactional” sex, in which acts are exchanged for money or food.
Amongst the sheer scale of rape cases, including that of UN peacekeeper involvement as well as violations from the actors involved in the countries they participate in, rape, goes unprosecuted. In the CAR, just one case of dozens reported to the UN was taken further.
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The U.N. mission, a 12,000-member organization which includes troops from 46 countries and is known as MINUSCA, was established to provide security and protect civilians in the CAR alone.
It these reports are hardly the only act of brutality by UN peacekeepers in the world’s poorest nations. As Bloomberg has just reported “there were 99 allegations of sexual abuse accusations against UN staff last year, a 25 percent increase over 2014, affecting peacekeeping operations in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali and Sudan”.
Given the reports, the suspicion is that this is just the tip of a very large iceberg.
Overall, there are 104,000 blue-helmeted troops currently deployed which are sent by more than a dozen countries to help protect people across the continent and their continual failures accuse Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of not taking the matter seriously.