Investigators sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo reported more than 150 cases of pedophilia, rape and soliciting prostitutes by United Nations officials and peacekeepers. The Washington Post reports that a confidential UN report describes the sexual exploitation as “significant, widespread, and ongoing.” According to the LA Times, some of the cases involved the use of pictures and videos.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan responded to the findings, stating, “I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it,” reports the LA Times. Earlier this year, the UN Special Representative to Congo announced that the UN would start an investigation of reports that Tunisian and Uruguayan peacekeepers would give young girls aged 12 to 15 food for sex at a refugee town in Congo.
Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN’s top peacekeeping official, has said that the UN would consider lifting the immunity of offending UN peacekeepers so that they may face prosecution, according to the Washington Post. However, other UN officials have stated that the UN has no such authority over foreign troops.
In previous years, UN peacekeepers have been linked to sex abuse in East Timor, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, reports the Associated Press.