NEW YORK, Feb. 10, 2005 — Widespread allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of Congolese women, boys and girls have been made against U.N.
personnel who were sent to help and protect them — despite a so-called zero tolerance policy touted by the United Nations toward such behavior.
The allegations of misconduct and sexual exploitation range from reported rapes of young Congolese girls by U.N. troops, to charges of an Internet
pedophile ring run from Congo by Didier Bourguet, a senior U.N. official from France, to a colonel from South Africa accused of molesting his teenage
male translator, and estimates of hundreds of underage girls having babies fathered by U.N. soldiers who have been able to simply leave their children
and their crimes behind.
Ravaged by more than a decade of civil war, and one of the poorest countries in the world, Congo has relied on the United Nations for both military
protection and humanitarian aid. "The U.N. is there for their protection, so when the protectors become violators, this is particularly egregious,"
said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who investigated the allegations on behalf of her organization. "This is
particularly bad." William Swing, a former U.S. ambassador to Congo who now heads the U.N. peacekeeping mission there, admitted the sexual crimes
were a black mark on the United Nations.
"It pains us all," he said. "It's absolutely odious. And we're determined to wipe it out."
But Swing said the problem was just recently brought to his attention, and that only a small percentage of the 11,000 U.N. personnel in Congo were
involved. "A few people have managed to basically cause disgrace for the mission and for the U.N., and that's why we're determined to conquer it.
I have sent a dozen home," Swing said. Human rights investigators also have focused on what they call "survival sex." U.N. peacekeeping troops
first came to Congo five years ago to stop a raging border war, and the first reports of sex crimes began within a year of their arrival. Men from
roughly 50 different countries make up the U.N. forces in Congo, and the United Nations does not conduct background checks. Furthermore, U.N. troops
are exempt from prosecution in Congo.
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Hah, wow, that is amazing. I would'nt be able to believe that something like this was actually going on.
[edit on 11-2-2005 by ZeddicusZulZorander]