• UN mission in Congo holds record in rape, sexual abuse

Almost one third of rape and sex abuse crimes committed by United Nations peacekeepers in the past decade and more have occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new report says.

According to the reports, the results of the investigative report by the Associated Press released on Saturday said of a total of 2,000 sexual abuse and exploitation complaints against UN peacekeepers and other personnel around the world, some 700 came in Congo, the worst such record for a UN mission in the past 12 years.

The report added that a third of all 43 allegations leveled against UN peacekeepers and personnel worldwide this year had happened in the African country.

The UN mission in Congo, with a staggering cost of $1 billion a year, has faced growing criticism over its inability to carry out reforms over the past years. Some countries such as the United States have even called on the UN to end the mission as it has consistently failed to meet its pledges to stop the abuse or help victims.

The yearlong investigation by AP said many of the complaints by victims against peacekeepers had been lost due to a sprawling bureaucracy of the mission. Some cases have disappeared or officials have handed them off to peacekeepers’ home countries, which often remain silent on the crimes.

The report found that many of teenage girls raped by UN peacekeepers in Congo received no help and were instead banished from their own families for having mixed-race children. The children themselves have become victims as families are reluctant to keep them.

Many of the victims have been subject to violence in refugee camps protected by the UN, the report said. It recounted the story of a 14-year-old who was raped exactly on a day that a delegation from the UN was paying a visit to a refugee camp. A Pakistani peacekeeper slipped inside the girl’s home and raped her when she was with her siblings. The girl went on to become pregnant and her call for help fell on deaf ears.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN’s top human rights official and a member of the delegation that heard the girl's testimony in 2004, said he still feels shocked when hearing the girl’s experience.

“What on earth would it take for this soldier not to do it, to have all the heads of the UN together, and he still does it?” asked Hussein, who helped write a landmark report in 2005 with the aim of curbing sexual abuse and exploitation within the UN system.

SS

Sep 23, 2017 16:40 UTC
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