The United Nations is turning a blind eye to child rape within its own ranks

Andrew MacLeod
The UN has been criticised for not acting swiftly enough on the issue of abuse: AFP

The United Nations is raping children. The facilitation of these child rapes is in part funded by the UK taxpayer.

You think this is “fake news”? Well let’s go right to the top and check the facts.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary General ​António Guterres in releasing the 2016 UN annual review said that there were 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving troops and civilians across all UN peace missions in 2016 alone. The United Nations Secretary General is talking about his own organisation.

These 145 cases involved 311 victims and even the UN recognises that this is the tip of the iceberg. Many of the victims, by the UN’s own admission, are children.

UN Peacekeepers and staff raping children is not a right-wing conspiracy or fake news, it is admitted by the UN itself. But is the UN repeating the mistakes of the Catholic Church by obfuscation and minimisation of the problem, not talking it head on and stamping it out?

The UN’s language is interesting here. It is wishy-washy as if child rape were a problem that needed to be minimised, not wiped out.

“I fully recognise that no magic wand exists to end the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Guterres said. “Nevertheless, I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.”

“Dramatically improve” the situation? He is kidding right? What about wiping it out?

The Secretary General proposed a four-part strategy: putting “the rights and dignity for victims at the forefront of UN efforts”; working “relentlessly” to end impunity for those guilty of sexual abuse and exploitation; building a network to support UN efforts including civil society, external experts and organisations; and raising worldwide awareness of the problem to address the stigma victims face.

I have a much better idea. Let’s start with the language that is used here. Let us not hide behind large concepts. Let me be blunter.

What is a better term than “sexual abuse” of the 14-year-old child, together with her 18-year-old friend, set upon by UN peacekeepers near Bambari airport in Central African Republic late in 2015?

This is not “sexual abuse”. This is the gang rape of a child. It is neither “sexual abuse” nor an “indiscretion”. It is not something to be “minimised”. It is something to be wiped out with brutal efficiency.

If this is not shocking enough, the 14-year-old child became pregnant (as many others who are abused do) and her rape was paid for and facilitated by you, the reader. You paid for this gang rape through your taxpayer funds to the UN.

Have you ever wondered why countries like Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan send so many peacekeeping soldiers? It is because the UN pays for these countries to send soldiers. It is a huge export earner for their militaries and it is paid for by the net contributing countries like the UK, the US and Australia.

And this is not a surprise or unknown. Google “food for sex” and “UN sexual abuse” and see just how much comes up and for how long it comes up. See for how long Kofi Anan, Ban Ki Moon and now António Guterres have been saying “something must be done”.

I am not a right wing UN basher – I used to work for the UN. As my close friends will tell you, one of the reasons I left the UN is because I call them the second largest harbourer of paedophiles behind only the Catholic Church. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe the UN is worse.

How bad could this problem be?

Well, the UN has well in excess of 100,000 staff and Peacekeepers at any given time. Often the number is higher. Approximately two-thirds are male – at least 66,000. The National Crime Agency in Britain estimates one in 35 (almost three per cent) of the male population have paedophilia tendencies.

If the UN’s staffing profile was similar to the broader population that would mean that there are about 2,000 men with paedophilia tendencies working for the UN.

And many of them are in positions of authority, with diplomatic immunity and impunity to act.

And the UN wants us to believe that the number of victims is in the hundreds?

Here is what I think should be done.

The UN and large international NGOs need to put specific paedophile checks and filters in place in the recruitment process. I know few NGOs that do.

Second, the International Criminal Court should be empowered to criminally charge UN staff, Peacekeepers and international NGO staff for crimes involving children.

Thirdly, the UN knows which soldiers were deployed in areas where the children were raped. Those soldiers should all be DNA tested and matched against the children born of rape. The rapists should then be charged, if not in their home courts then elsewhere.

Fourthly, all UN agencies and NGOs should have independent and robust confidential whistle blowing procedures to identify the paedophiles.

The UN should be given six months to implement this mechanism – failing which all funds should be withheld from the agency.

What can you do to help? Do not donate a single cent or pound to any organisation unless it satisfies you that it has a process to eliminate paedophilia. And how can you tell? Here is a good test: ask the agency how many of its staff they have referred to the police. Because if the answer is “none” then they are not taking this problem seriously.

Is this too extreme?

People have been using soft words about paedophilia in the UN and large NGOs for decades. None of this is secret. None of this is surprising. But never have we actually put pressure for something to be done.

This is child rape, perpetrated in our name, using our money and it must stop. Now.

Andrew MacLeod worked as an aid worker for the Red Cross in Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the 1990s and for the UN in Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as other locations in the 2000s. He is the author of ‘A Life Half Lived’, published by New Holland Press and can be followed on Twitter @AndrewMMacleod.

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