United Nations peacekeeping forces fathered hundreds of children with girls as young as eleven years old while deployed in Haiti, according to an academic study published by The Conversation on Wednesday.
The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was instituted in 2004 to aid the island nation, one of the poorest in the world, in addressing political instability and organized crime. The mission continued through 2017, remaining in the country after a series of natural disasters including a 2010 earthquake and Hurricaine Matthew in 2016.
The UN has admitted that MINUSTAH peacekeepers introduced cholera into Haiti, causing the infection of 800,000 Haitians, 10,000 of whom died as a result. The organization has also previously admitted that over 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were involved in a sex ring between 2004 and 2007, most of whom were returned to Sri Lanka without punishment.
“I see a series of females 12 and 13 years old here. MINUSTAH impregnated and left them in misery with babies in their hands,” a woman from Cité Soleil told researchers for the Wednesday report. “The person has already had to manage a stressful, miserable life.”
A male resident of Cité Soleil said, “All day, I heard women who are complaining about the sexual violence that MINUSTAH did to them. And they had given them AIDS through sexual violence. There are also some of them who are pregnant.”
However, researchers found that a more common problem was the transactional nature of sexual encounters with peacekeepers.
“They come, they sleep with the women, they take their pleasures with them, they leave children in their hands, give them 500 gourdes,” another man from Cité Soleil said. A Port Salu resident said “They had sex with the girls not even for money, it’s just for food, for one meal.”
The authors of the report issued recommendations for the UN to train its peacekeepers in “cultural awareness” and to punish peacekeepers found to have committed sexual offenses instead of simply sending them back to their home country. There is a long history of complaints of sexual offenses against UN peacekeepers, including in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bosnia, and the Central African Republic.