[JURIST] The United Nations has opened an investigation into a suspected child prostitution ring in the Democratic Republic of Congo [JURIST news archive] facilitated by UN peacekeepers and Congo soldiers, the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) [official website] said Thursday. There have been claims that UN peacekeepers have aided the alleged prostitution ring by luring young girls to work as prostitutes, and have even patronized the young girls in some instances. In keeping with the UN's "zero tolerance" [JURIST report] policy of sexual abuses by its peacekeeping troops, MONUC immediately launched the investigation.
The UN has faced several allegations that UN peacekeepers working on various missions have engaged in sexual abuse of the native women of those countries. Last year, the UN received 20 reports of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers [JURIST report] in Liberia. UN peacekeepers in Burundi and the Congo [JURIST reports] were also convicted of committing sexual abuse last year. In February, Jordan's UN ambassador and advisor to the secretary-general on the sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations told the UN Security Council [JURIST report] that it could be three or four more years before the "unacceptably high" number of sexual abuse charges against UN peacekeepers in the Congo can be adequately addressed through UN reforms [JURIST news archive]. An independent review report [JURIST report], released last October, concluded that the UN is not taking proper measures to end sexual abuse during peacekeeping missions. Reuters has more.