AFRICA. Democratic Republic of Congo: During 23 years of the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), the United Nations (UN) peacekeepers from 12 different countries first fathered and then abandoned thousands of children.
A study from the University of Birmingham revealed that soldiers and police working under the UN directive to a war-prone country, DR Congo, have abused and assaulted children, and young women enticing them with food for ‘survival sex’.
The study further stated that the absconding fathers of the children comprise of soldiers, pilots, drivers, cooks, doctors, and photographers are peacekeepers from Tanzania, South Africa, Morocco, Uruguay, Nepal, and Bangladesh who were the country 1999 to prevent the second DR Congo War, between itself and Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia along with rebel movements.
The team of the University of Birmingham who spoke to several affected children ranging from age six to nineteen and mothers confided in them they are often been rejected and neglected by their own families and face stigmatisation within their communities as they grow up in hunger, poverty and excluded.
Of the 2,858 interviews carried out, nearly half (1,182 people) raised, unprompted, the issues of peacekeeper abuse and abandoned children, the study has said.
According to the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General, Prince Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, since 2005 thousands of victims, most especially those who are carrying peacekeepers’ babies, have been neglected, abandoned by their fathers, and direly need financial help.
There are significant numbers of children born because of sexual abuse by the UN peacekeepers.
“And there are potentially thousands of children left behind by peacekeepers in DR Congo. Part of the problem is that some of those deployed seem to treat these missions as an opportunity for sex tourism and sexual crimes that they are unlikely to commit in their home countries,” the study has said.
The study also has it that most women engage in the act for financial and material gains. Which is based on the exchange of food, cloches, and money in return for sex.
The researchers describe the act in their study as ‘transactional’ where the women wanted a cellphone or a new hairdo or new shoes. That is different from women having sex because they need food to live, which is called survival sex.