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U.N. Peacekeepers, Aid Workers Accused of Abusing Children

By May 27, 2008

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Save the Children UK today released a damning report that outlines the chronic problem of U.N. peacekeepers and aid workers in conflict-torn countries taking advantage of residents in the worst way: making kids trade food for sex, abusing children as young as six, engaging in sex trafficking, forcing kids into prostitution and porn. The organization says that not enough has been done to stop the problem since these crimes were originally brought to light. As Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK, prefaced the report, "statements of principle and good intent have yet to be converted into really decisive and concerted international action."

Their main concern, too, is that these crimes are so under-reported that it's hard to see the full scope of the problem, since victims are afraid of losing the humanitarian assistance that comes with the foreign presence. The report offers many disturbing testimonials, such as these:

    “Sometimes they ask us to find them girls.They especially ask us for girls of our age. Often it will be between eight and ten men who will share two or three girls.When I suggest an older girl, they say that they want a young girl, the same age as us.” -- from an interview with three 14-year-old boys in Cote d'Ivoire

    “There is a girl who sleeps in the street, and there were a group of people in the streets who decided to make money off of her. They took her to a man who works for an NGO. He gave her one American dollar and the little girl was happy to see the money. It was two in the morning. The man took her and raped her. In the morning the little girl could not walk.” -- as told by a young boy in Haiti

Save the Children UK researched the situation in Haiti, Cote d'Ivoire, and southern Sudan. Yet allegations of severe misconduct by those working for U.N. missions have for years been more widespread, with the 2004 Congo scandal and subsequent scandals in Burundi, Liberia, and elsewhere.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called the report "very valuable" and promised the U.N. would investigate the allegations.

(Photo by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images)

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