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The United Nations and Sex Abuse

In the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations, the United Nations is investigating a report that a woman in Gonaives, Haiti, was raped by two civilian police officers serving with U-N peacekeepers. U-N peacekeepers are also accused of abusing or exploiting women and girls in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U-N has more than eleven-thousand peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Government officials in South Africa, Morocco, and France have taken action against soldiers and civilians charged with sexual abuse or exploitation while serving with the United Nations in Congo. According to news reports, U-N personnel have fathered a number of Congolese children. One woman told a reporter, "The U-N is not able to give me food or money for my grandson. But if the U-N hadn't brought this soldier here, my daughter would not have become pregnant."

It is reprehensible that anyone connected with a U-N peacekeeping mission should prey on the very women and children the U-N is supposed to protect. Those who commit these offenses impugn the reputation of thousands of U-N peacekeepers who carry out their duties honorably under dangerous and difficult circumstances.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan says, "We cannot tolerate even one instance of a United Nations peacekeeper victimizing the most vulnerable among us." The United States strongly supports this policy and the U-N must make sure it is implemented. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that the U.S. is working with the U-N to make sure that alleged misconduct is investigated and that those involved are punished:

"I do note that some of these allegations have come out, indeed, because of U-N reporting, because the U-N itself has looked into them and found evidence of problems and tried to call attention to them so they will be corrected and punished."

The United States, says Mr. Boucher, is urging U-N "troop contributors to take disciplinary and legal action against offenders and to strengthen their efforts at prevention."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.