WikiLeaks: UN Peacekeepers traded food for sex with underage girls…

According to a United States Embassy cable, written in January 2010, United Nations peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast exchanged food for sex with underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation.

A random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis. “Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” the diplomat wrote in the cable, citing information shared with the embassy by a protection officer.

“We see it as a command and control problem,” said United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux. On Tuesday 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the U.N. following a yearlong investigation.

In 2007, a battalion of 730 peacekeepers from Morocco was asked to suspend its activities in the northern Ivorian city of Bouake after the U.N. received allegations of sexual misconduct involving local girls.

A report published a year later by Save the Children U.K. identified Ivory Coast as one of the places where sexual barter between peacekeepers and girls was occurring. The peacekeepers traded food as well as mobile phones for sex, the report said.

Sexual misconduct by U.N. troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti.

 

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