The United Nations is frequently attacked for not doing enough to protect civilians in war-torn areas.
It doesn’t help that U.N. peacekeepers, the blue-helmeted troops sent to troubled regions to prevent violence, are paying children to have sex, according to the international organization.
The Washington Post reports an investigation revealed at least four peacekeepers were paying young girls about 50 cents for sex in the Central African Republic.
It’s not an isolated incident. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said sexual abuse is a “cancer” he intends to cure by naming and shaming countries whose troops and police are accused of sex crimes.
The U.N. has nine peacekeeping operations in Africa, employing over 100,000 people, reports the Washington Post. But, U.N. forces are “preying on the people they’ve come to protect,” said Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the top U.N. official in Central African Republic, where Christians have used violence to drive almost all Muslims into neighboring Cameroon.
The U.N. has set up a tent city in the capital city of Bangui.
M’Poko camp, located among abandoned planes near the city’s main airport, is home to 20,000 people, mostly Christians, the Post says. Peacekeepers are from Gabon, Morocco, Burundi and France, but the U.N. has not revealed the nationalities of the four accused of hiring girls to have sex.
In a separate incident, as many as 14 troops from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea allegedly raped and sodomized six boys between the ages of 9 and 15 in 2013 and 2014, before the U.N. mission formally began, the Post reports. The U.N. took no action until a whistleblower alerted French authorities.
In August, a U.N. peacekeeper searching a home allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl he found hiding in a bathroom. That group of peacekeepers, from Rwanda and Cameroon, is also accused of killing a teen boy and his father by indiscriminately firing into a street crowd, says Amnesty International.
Why doesn’t the U.N. charge accused peacekeepers with crimes? Because they can’t. The U.N. lacks the authority to charge or prosecute peacekeepers. Member nations, who provide the manpower, are supposed to take punitive action against their personnel, but rarely do.
U.N. peacekeeping forces are comprised mostly of troops from countries you probably aren’t planning to visit. Cameroon provides the most troops (974), followed by Mongolia (934), France (894), Kenya (878), Malawi (859), Burundi (858), Guinea (857), Cambodia (853), Malaysia (849), Democratic Republic of Congo (808), Congo (752).
The United States, which hosts the U.N. in New York City, provides 39 troops and a lot of cash. The U.S. provides 22 percent of all U.N. funding, more than double that of the next closest nation (Japan, 10 percent), followed by Germany (7 percent), France (5.5 percent) and the U.K (5 percent).
The peacekeeping budget for the 2013–14 fiscal year was $7.54 billion, supporting 82,318 troops deployed in 15 missions around the world. The U.S. provided 28 percent of funding for peacekeeping missions that year.
It looks like the most powerful governments in the world are paying poorer nations to be peacekeepers only in name. There have been U.N. success stories, but you may have noticed the U.N. didn’t help fleeing refugees in Syria or Russia from taking Crimea.
You would be forgiven for not remembering U.N. peacekeepers in Rwanda did nothing to stop the slaughter of almost a million people. Or Bosnia, where the U.N. created a safe area for Muslims who surrendered their weapons but did nothing as it became a Serb killing field.
Genocide in the Balkans did not stop until the U.S. took the lead.
In Africa, the killing continues.