Members of a UN peacekeeping mission deployed in Haiti engaged in “transactional” sexual relationships with more than 225 Haitian women in exchange for basic necessities such as food and medicine, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press. The report suggests such cases of abuse still go underreported.
The shocking conclusions by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services investigators, who interviewed 231 people, reveal that a third of alleged abuse involved minors under 18.
“For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the 'triggering need,'" states the report, expected to be released this month. The ones living in the city or suburbs resorted to sex for “church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.”
“In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media,” the report adds. “Only seven interviewees knew about the United Nations policy prohibiting sexual exploitation and abuse.”
The damning report comes almost a week after the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced plans for an independent panel to examine the handling of the allegations of child rape by French soldiers in the Central African Republic, where more than 5,000 people have died in sectarian violence.
Earlier in April, it was reported that UN peacekeepers sexually abused and sodomized starving and homeless boys in the Central African Republic, some as young as 9, in return for food and money.
The alleged abuses were carried out between December 2013 and June 2014, according to CNN, at a displaced persons' camp at M'Poko International Airport in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic.
A statement from Ban Ki-moon’s office said he was “deeply disturbed” about the claims and ensured the UN will “not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them.”