United Nations peacekeepers commonly pay for sex with cash, dresses, jewellery, perfume, mobile phones and other items despite a ban on such relationships, a draft UN report has concluded.
The draft study by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), obtained by Reuters news agency, says surveys of hundreds of women in Haiti and Liberia found their reasons for selling sex included hunger, poverty and lifestyle improvement.
“Evidence from two peacekeeping mission countries demonstrates that transactional sex is quite common, but under-reported in peacekeeping missions,” concluded the OIOS draft dated May 15.
The UN currently has more than 125 000 troops, police and civilians deployed in 16 operations around the world. The OIOS draft report also notes that “the number of condoms distributed, along with the number of personnel undergoing voluntary counselling and confidential testing for HIV . . . suggest that sexual relationships between peacekeeping personnel and the local population may be routine”.
It said a UN bulletin issued in 2003 banned transactional sex by peacekeepers, in part because it undercuts the organisation’s credibility in areas where it is serving.
The OIOS draft said 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made between 2008 and 2013, of which one-third involved children. It said missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Haiti and South Sudan accounted for the largest numbers of accusations. — Al Jazeera/Reuters.