The United Nations has come under fire after an investigation found that U.N. peacekeepers were committing child sexual abuse in the Central African Republic.
Four U.N. peacekeepers allegedly paid teenage girls for sex in the M’poko camp for internally displaced persons, The Washington Post reports. The girls were members of a prostitution ring that were paid between 50 cents and 3 dollars by the peacekeepers.
Peacekeepers on the U.N.’s mission to the C.A.R. have faced 22 additional accusations of sexual abuse in the last 14 months.
The U.N. was quick to condemn the recent revelations of sexual assault.
“They [the peacekeepers] are preying on the people they’ve come to protect," Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, a U.N. official in the C.A.R., said, according to The Post.
The M’poko camp in the capital city of Bangui has previously fallen victim to sexual abuse cases. According to Human Rights Watch, there were nine cases of sexual violence on record in the camp from September-December of last year, The Post notes.
The U.N.’s involvement in the C.A.R. was known to be plagued by sexual abuse cases before this recent revelation. Fourteen U.N. troops allegedly sexually abused children in the country in 2013 and 2014 before the U.N.’s mission officially began.
The recent reports of sexual abuse also come in the wake of a December 2015 report, in which it was discovered that there was poor enforcement of U.N. policies meant to prevent and report abuse. This independent report of the U.N.'s practices also revealed sexual misconduct cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Cambodia, East Timor, West Africa, the D.R.C., Haiti, Liberia, South Sudan and the C.A.R., reports USA Today.
NGOs called for the U.N. to take action to curb sexual assault in light of the December report.
“The U.N. should stop tip-toeing around, trying not to offend governments, and instead put the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse at the heart of their policy," Sarah Taylor, a women's rights advocate at Human Rights Watch, said, according to The Post.