JOHANNESBURG – South African uniformed personnel are among the worst sexual offenders at UN peacekeeping missions, a UN report spanning 2010 to 2013 has revealed.
The report of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services on sexual exploitation and abuse by its peacekeeping staff comes in the wake of the UN controversy over allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR).
Last month, French prosecutors ordered a criminal investigation into allegations that French peacekeepers raped children and demanded sex for food in the CAR as recently as this year.
In April, the Guardian newspaper in Britain reported that a senior UN official had been suspended for leaking details of the alleged abuse to the French government.
To date, he is the only person to have been sanctioned over the issue, but the French have now launched an official investigation.
The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services report, which was released last week, focused on sexual offences committed by peacekeepers on at UN missions in Sudan and South Sudan, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
Forty-five percent of the total substantiated sexual abuse and exploitation occurred in the DRC, the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission. Of those, about a third involved the abuse of minors.
About 2,000 troops were reportedly stationed in the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan during that time.
In the report, dated May 15, 2015, the UN said the largest number of allegations involved military personnel, followed by civilians and then the police.
The UN said it had received 480 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse relating to its peacekeeping and special political missions between 2008 and 2013.
The report revealed that South African troops faced nine allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation, followed by Uruguay with eight and Nigeria with seven allegations.
Meanwhile, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini says they're not aware of the report, as it hasn't officially been sent to them by the UN. He said the SANDF is yet to receive any formal request to investigate the allegations.