With the United Nations already under fire for the Oil-for-Food mega-scandal and other corruption, sensational allegations of rampant sexual exploitation and rape of young girls and women by the U.N.’s so-called “peacekeepers” and civilian staffers in the Congo is dragging the global body’s reputation to an all-time low.
In a new report referring to the widespread sex scandal as “the U.N.’s Abu Ghraib,” the London Times provides some specific examples, including:
- A French U.N. logistics expert in the Congo shot pornographic videos in his home, in which he had converted his bedroom into a photo studio for videotaping his sexual abuse of young girls. When police raided his home, the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl sent to him in a law enforcement sting operation. As the Times reported, a senior Congolese police officer confirmed the bed was surrounded by large mirrors on three sides, with a remote control camera on the fourth side.
- U.N. officials are worried that the scandal, which already has netted 150 allegations of sex crimes by U.N. staffers, will explode if the pornographic videos and photos, now on sale in Congo, becoming public
“It would be a pretty big problem for the U.N. if these pictures come out,” one senior official told the Times.
- Two Russian pilots paid young girls with jars of mayonnaise and jam to have sex with them, the report adds.
- U.N. “peacekeepers” from Morocco based in Kisangani – a secluded town on the Congo River – are notorious for impregnating local women and girls. In March, an international group probing the scandal found 82 women and girls had been made pregnant by Moroccan U.N. staffers and 59 others by Uruguayan staffers. One U.N. soldier accused of rape was apparently hidden in the barracks for a year.
Congo’s Minister of Defense Maj.-Gen. Jean Pierre Ondekane told a top U.N. official that all U.N. “peacekeepers” in Kisangani would be remember for would be “for running after little girls,” the Times reported.
- And at least two U.N. officials – a Ukrainian and a Canadian – have been forced to leave the African nation after getting local women pregnant.
Most of the sexual abuse and exploitation, says the report, involves trading sex for money, food or jobs. However, some victims say they were raped, but later given food or money to make the incident appear to have been consensual – “rape disguised as prostitution.”
U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno told the London paper: “The fact that these things happened is a blot on us. It’s awful. What is important is to get to the bottom of it and fight it and make sure that people who do that pay for what they have done.”
Despite the fact that the U.N.’s sexual code of conduct is prominently displayed on U.N. facilities Congo – forbidding sex with prostitutes or women under 18 – the U.N. continues to hand out free condoms to “peacekeepers” to protect them from AIDS.
The U.N. has promised to investigate and prosecute the widespread allegations. But, as WND reported last month, the global organization is not known for its forthrightness and candor in such internal investigations. The agency has been criticized for ignoring evidence or wrongdoing in the past – including accusations of rape and murder by “peacekeepers.”
In fact, previous revelations of peacekeeping abuses have only been revealed by news organizations. Such was the case in Cambodia in the early 1990s and later in Somalia, Bosnia and Ethiopia.
“I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan admitted. “This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it.”
Annan said the allegations concerned a small number of U.N. personnel and promised to hold those involved accountable.
“I have long made it clear that my attitude to sexual exploitation and abuse is one of zero tolerance, without exception, and I am determined to implement this policy in the most transparent manner,” Annan said.
But Jordan’s Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a special adviser to Annan and who led one investigative team, said in a confidential report obtained by The Times: “The situation appears to be one of ‘zero-compliance with zero-tolerance’ throughout the mission.”
The new charges of rape and pedophilia by U.N. troops and workers in Congo are not the first scandal involving U.N. workers and troops in Africa.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s tenure was marked by scandalous charges that he played a leading role in supplying weapons to the Hutu regime that carried out a campaign of genocide against the Tutsi tribe in 1994.
As minister of foreign affairs in Egypt, Boutros-Ghali facilitated an arms deal in 1990, which was to result in $26 million of mortar bombs, rocket launchers, grenades and ammunition being flown from Cairo to Rwanda. The arms were used by Hutus in attacks which led to up to a million deaths. The role of Boutros-Ghali, who was in charge at the U.N. when it turned its back on the killings in 1994, was revealed in a book by Linda Melvern. In “A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide,” Boutros-Ghali admits his role in approving an initial $5.8 million arms deal in 1990, which led to Egypt supplying arms to Rwanda until 1992. He says he approved it because it was his job as foreign minister to sell weapons for Egypt.
Back in 1997, there were reports Belgian U.N. troops roasted a Somali boy. A military court reportedly sentenced two paratroopers to a month in jail and a fine of 200 pounds for the offense.
Another Belgian soldier reportedly forced a young Somali to eat pork, drink salt water and then eat his own vomit. Another sergeant was accused of murdering a Somali whom he was photographed urinating upon. Another child, accused of stealing food from the paratroopers’ base, died after being locked in a storage container for 48 hours. Fifteen other members of the same regiment were investigated in 1995 for “acts of sadism and torture” against Somali civilians.
The pattern of abuse was not confined to Belgian troops. Belgium was actually the third country in the peacekeeping group to charge troops with serious crimes against Somali citizens — including rape, torture and murder. In 1995, a group of Canadian paratroopers were investigated for torturing a Somali to death and killing three others.
Gruesome photos were published in a Milan magazine of Italian soldiers torturing a Somali youth and abusing and raping a Somali girl. Paratroopers claim they were specifically trained in methods of torture to aid interrogation. According to one witness, Italian soldiers tied a young Somali girl to the front of an armored personnel carrier and raped her while officers looked on.
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