Too many times, some of us intelligent human beings act in deplorable ways that cause hurt and pain to permeate throughout the most desperate communities. Such is the case of U.N. Peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast.
According to a U.S. embassy cable released by the groundbreaking website WikiLeaks, U.N. Peacekeepers bartered food for sexual acts in the war-torn Ivory Coast.
The cable, written in January, 2010 focuses on the behavior of Beninese peacekeepers stationed in the war-torn western town of Toulepleu.
A random poll of 10 underage girls by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts on a regular basis in exchange for their most basic needs.
The situation was so dire in the Western African nation that many parents were encouraging their daughters to turn tricks for food aide.
“Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” the diplomat wrote.
Earlier this week, U.N. spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed 16 Beninese peacekeepers are now barred from serving with them following a year-long probe.
Of the 16 soldiers involved, 10 were commanders.They ‘failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse,’ he said.
Sexual misconduct by UN troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti – as well as in an earlier incident involving Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.
In 2007, a 730-strong battalion of 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.
Bonnardeaux said that 42 allegations of sexual abuse by UN staff in Ivory Coast have been reported since 2007. Sixteen involved minors. None have been reported yet this year, according to UN records.