United Nations, blue helmets accused of sex abuse in Africa

The UN denounced 44 cases of sexual abuse by the blue helmets so far this year. Only few of them have been punished.

The blue helmets of the United Nations assigned to protect civilians in a few African countries have committed despicable crimes. According to the UN, at least 44 cases of sex abuse by peacekeepers have been identified so far this year, of which 29 have been committed during the “Minusca” mission in the Central African Republic.


blue helmets Haiti
A team of blue helmets of the United Nations in Haiti, 2005 © Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images

 French troopers have also been accused

Seven other cases have been identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo, two in Haiti and the others occurred in Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Mali. And the total doesn’t include the allegations that French troopers of the Sangaris mission (launched in 2013 in the Central African Republic) had to face in early April. It was the British daily The Guardian that exposed that UN employee Anders Kompass passed internal documents to the French authorities revealing minor sex abuses.


“What emerges – Special Coordinator on improving the United Nations’ response to sexual exploitation and abuse Jane Holl Lute stated – is scandalous. We’ve observed serious problems in the chain of command of the units involved”. For this reason, she added, “we need to create a context in which these behaviours can’t be tolerated”. Actually this problem is not news. Already in 2015 the United Nations denounced sixty-nine cases of potential sex abuse in Congo and the Central African Republic. Troopers from 21 nations have been accused.

Some soldiers have been sentenced to a few weeks in jail

In the meantime, the reputation of soldiers – who are sent on a mission to a country to keep peace – is irreparably undermined in the eyes of local populations as well as international community.


Congo blue helmets
UN troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo © John Moore/Getty Images


The situation is exacerbated by the fact that recent sex abuses have been committed by men of African origin. And according to the AFP news agency, it seems that their countries – the only ones that are juridically authorised to punish them – don’t work hard to do it. Note that inquiries have been conducted in just 26 of the 69 cases recorded in 2015. And just three troopers have been sentenced to just a few weeks in jail.


Featured image: © John Moore/Getty Images

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