By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Friday announced it was pushing the U.N. Security Council to call for repatriation of peacekeepers if there is a pattern of sexual crimes by troops of a certain nationality or if a country fails to investigate accusations.
The United Nations reported 99 allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse against U.N. staff members across the U.N. system last year, a sharp increase from the 80 allegations in 2014. The majority - 69 in all - involved personnel in 10 peacekeeping missions. [nL2N16C02E]
"The United States has tabled a draft resolution to add the Security Council's weight to the United Nations response to this horrific, recurrent problem in peacekeeping missions, including by supporting the Secretary-General’s decision to repatriate units that demonstrate a pattern" of sexual exploitation and abuse, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said in a statement.
"I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Council toward swift adoption," she said, adding that "the steps the United Nations and its member states have so far taken to address this scourge are demonstrably, and woefully, inadequate."
Power noted that most of the allegations involved are of the most serious nature: rape and sex with minors. She said more than 70 percent of investigations of sex crime allegations are listed as "pending."
Most recently there have been dozens of abuse accusations against international troops in Central African Republic (CAR). The United Nations pledged to crack down on allegations of abuse to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.
The previous head of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, resigned last August and some 800 Congolese peacekeepers were repatriated last month. The U.N. report released on Friday said there were seven accusations of sexual abuse against Congolese troops in CAR last year.
The United Nations currently has 106,000 troops and police serving in 16 peacekeeping missions. The United States pays for more than 28 percent of the more than $8.2 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget.
A senior U.S. official said on condition of anonymity that sexual exploitation and abuse allegations against U.N. troops "undermine not only peacekeeping missions but really the credibility of the U.N."
"We're the largest financial contributor to peacekeeping and have an enormous vested interest in seeing peacekeeping be effective, being credible and actually doing what it is supposed to do, which is to protect civilians," the official said.
Diplomats said the United States has asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to brief the Security Council on the issue next week.
(Editing by Andrea Ricci and David Gregorio)