A new investigation has uncovered about 2,000 allegations of sexual misconduct against UN peacekeepers and personnel in the past 12 years as the international organization continues to “grapple” with sexual exploitation by members of its ranks.
The investigation conducted by the Associated Press says nearly 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation have been leveled against peacekeepers worldwide over the past years.
The study is based on internal UN reports and testimony from victims.
It also uncovered over 300 allegations involving sexual abuse of children, some as young as 12.
A number of allegations stem from field missions in Haiti, where over 130 Sri Lankan peacekeepers operated a sex ring between 2004 and 2007, involving nine children.
Peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uruguay were also implicated in the cases of abuse, the report said.
According to the report, some abusers are said to have coerced victims into performing sexual acts, using food and money in a number of locations around the world.
In some cases the abuse is said to have taken place in UN-branded trucks.
The report said “only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.”
Human rights groups have complained about the lack of accountability for peacekeepers serving in UN missions. Many have avoided investigation altogether or received light punishment.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently admitted that the world body “continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.”
Announcing a new “victim-centered strategy” to combat sexual exploitation in March, the UN chief said the organization “will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Guterres has already designated a nine-member task force to come up with a new strategy aimed at enhancing the response to the string of damaging and growing reports of sexual abuse carried out by UN peacekeeping forces.
Nearly 100,000 troops and police forces from 123 countries serve in UN peacekeeping missions.