Sex abuse Abuse by UN peacekeepers a "cancer"

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called sexual abuse by peacekeepers "a cancer in our system".

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play UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called sexual abuse by peacekeepers "a cancer in our system". (AFP/File Don Emmert)
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In war-torn countries, women and girls are raising children, fathered by UN troops who abused or exploited them.

Deployed to protect and rescue, instead troops are accused of rape and sexual exploitation.

A Washington Post investigation states the UN even has a name for these children: Peacekeeper babies.

A 14-year-old in Bangui, Central African Republic tells the Post a Burundian soldier dragged her into his barracks and raped her, leaving her pregnant with the baby boy.

Since the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic began in 2014, its employees have been formally accused of sexually abusing or exploiting 42 local civilians, most of them underage girls.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called sexual abuse by peacekeepers "a cancer in our system".

Nearly 1,000 troops whose units have been tied to abuses have been expelled, or will soon be. Among them is the entire contingent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In interviews with the Post in the Central African Republic women and girls described contact with peacekeepers that violated UN regulations against sexual exploitation and abuse. Five of the seven female interviewees said they had borne the children of their abusers.

A 14-year-old girl who was raped said: "Sometimes when I'm alone with my baby, I think about killing him."

"He reminds me of the man who raped me," the Post reported.

According to residents, troops would look for girls during the day and sneak out at night to meet them in rented rooms or abandoned houses, or to take them into the barracks. Moroccan troops broke holes in the perimeter wall of their bases, witnesses said, so that they could leave undetected.

One girl who spoke to the Post said girls were promised food or money if they slept with the troops. The man that she became pregnant to went back to Morocco leaving her with the child. The whole family struggles.

The Post reports the UN system responsible for handling and prosecuting such cases has been widely criticised as dysfunctional, even after scandals involving peacekeepers in other parts of the world. Only one criminal charge has been filed in relation to any of the 42 cases of sexual abuse or exploitation that have been officially registered in the Central African Republic, according to UN officials.

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