The United Nations should be really proud of this one. A new WikiLeaks cable shows U.N. "peacekeepers" were holding food hostage from starving, underaged girls in the Ivory Coast, until sexual acts were performed to as "payment" for food.
United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation to exchange sex for food, according to a United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.
The cable written in January 2010 focuses on the behavior of Beninese peacekeepers stationed in the western town of Toulepleu, an area that has been at the crosshairs of the nation's 10-year-long conflict.
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 in order to secure their most basic needs. "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.
On Tuesday, United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed that in April, 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the U.N. following a yearlong investigation.
"We see it as a command and control problem," said Bonnardeaux who spoke by telephone from New York. Of the 16, 10 were commanders and the rest were soldiers.
The commanders, he said, "failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse."
Sexual misconduct by U.N. 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.
Sadly, this conduct is neither rare nor punished within the U.N. Luckily, former investment banker Ami Horowitz, has led the way in exposing corruption in the United Nations. His new film, U.N. Me, is coming to a theatre near you this Fall.
When the United Nations was founded more than sixty years ago, it embodied our hope for a safer, more peaceful world. But as reports of human rights violations and international conflicts make daily headlines, a question arises: Is the United Nations living up to its founding ideals?
The answer is a resounding no.
In a film that exposes the incompetence and corruption at the heart of the United Nations, filmmakers Ami Horowitz and Matthew Groff show how an organization created to ennoble mankind now actually enables evil and sows global chaos. U.N. Me takes us on a harrowing and darkly humorous tour of the U.N.'s scandalous disregard for the people and principles it was founded to defend. Along the way we learn:
How a U.N. peacekeeping force stationed in Cote d'Ivoire fired into a crowd of unarmed protesters, injuring and killing dozens, and how the U.N. failed to investigate.
How the largest U.N. humanitarian effort ever conceived, the Oil for Food Program, devolved into one of the biggest scams in the history of the world, and how the U.N. never disciplined or fired the culprits.
How the organization that ought to be leading the international effort to eradicate terrorism cannot, nearly a decade after 9/11, agree on a definition of "terrorism."
How the U.N.'s Human Rights Council prolonged the genocide in Darfur by attempting to discredit the urgent recommendations of its own investigative team.