The strictly confidential United Nations report, “Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Ituri region of Bunia,” became not so strictly confidential yesterday. The report describes the very real dilemma of peacekeeping presence in an already unstable landscape of sexual exploitation. The internal investigation of UN blue helmets in the Eastern DRC collected 217 accounts of sexual abuse in the Ituri region and:
From 17 January to 13 February, the following allegations were received by ID/OIOS:
Sexual exploitation and abuse allegations 217
Alleged victims 54
Babies fathered or girls impregnated 10
Peacekeepers alleged to have engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse with local girls 75
Fortunately, the report defines sexual abuse widely and inclusively, including situations in which asymmetries in power or differences in education were taken advantage of. However, given that these incidents were self-reported, the majority by the perpetrators, there is definitely no under-reporting or selection bias. 217 might even be overshooting.
The report’s conclusion: sigh.