The United Nations internal oversight body released a draft of a report on Tuesday that found widespread sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeeping forces while stationed in countries beset by conflict and natural disasters. The study focused on two countries—Haiti and Liberia—and found that transactional sex is “quite common but underreported.”
The U.N., which currently has 125,000 peacekeepers stationed around the world, banned the practice of paying for sex by peacekeepers because it believed it undermined the organization’s credibility when dealing with vulnerable communities it was meant to be assisting. In Haiti, the report found peacekeepers had paid for sex with 225 Haitian women while in the country. Here’s more from the Associated Press:
A year ago, the report says, investigators interviewed 231 people in Haiti who said they’d had transactional sexual relationships with U.N. peacekeepers. “For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the `triggering need,’” the report says. Urban and suburban women received “church shoes,’ cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.
“The [report] said 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made between 2008 and 2013, of which one-third involved children,” Reuters reports. “It said missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Haiti and South Sudan accounted for the largest numbers of accusations.”