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article imageWikiLeaks: UN peacekeepers traded food for sex with young girls

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 5, 2011 in Crime
New York - A new US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks reveals United Nations peacekeepers in a poor part of the Ivory Coast lured underage girls into sexual acts in exchange for food, an abuse problem “more extensive” than recognized.
The cable is centered around a random poll of 10 underage girls, conducted in 2009 by the aid group Save the Children UK, and actions taken by Beninese peacekeepers in Toulepleu, a war-ravaged town in the western part of the country.
The young girls were encouraged by their parents to have sex with the peacekeepers so they would receive food. “Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” a diplomat wrote, the Daily Mail reports.
Last week, UN spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said from New York that 16 Beninese peacekeepers have been barred from serving with the organization, saying they “failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse,” the Daily Mail notes.
Ten of the 16 soldiers were commanders. Bonnardeaux added there have been 42 allegations of sexual abuse by UN staff members reported in the Ivory Coast since 2007, with 16 of the allegations involving minors.
According to Huffington Post, a protection officer with Save the Children spoke to the embassy in January 2010 and said the “sexual exploitation and abuse problem among (United Nations) personnel is more extensive than is recognized.”
In addition to the sexual barter, the peacekeepers also traded mobile phones and lodging for sex, the report noted.
A number of countries have reported sexual misconduct by UN troops, including Cambodia, Congo, Haiti and Morocco.
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