January 2, 2007 – The Telegraph
The UN said today that it would launch an investigation after the Daily Telegraph reported allegations that UN personnel have abused children in southern Sudan.
Members of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in southern Sudan are facing allegations of raping and abusing children as young as 12, The Daily Telegraph reported today.
The abuse allegedly began two years ago when the UN mission in southern Sudan (UNMIS) moved in to help rebuild the region after a 23-year civil war. The UN has up to 10,000 military personnel in the region, of all nationalities and the allegations involve peacekeepers, military police and civilian staff.
The first indications of possible sexual exploitation emerged within months of the UN force’s arrival and The Daily Telegraph has seen a draft of an internal report compiled by the UN children’s agency Unicef in July 2005 referring to the problem.
This paper has learned of more than 20 victims’ accounts claiming that some peacekeeping and civilian staff based in the town are regularly picking up young children in their UN vehicles and forcing them to have sex. It is thought that hundreds of children may have been abused.
“I was sitting by the river the first time it happened,” said Jonas, 14, one of more than 20 children who claimed they had been abused this way.
“A man in a white car drove past and asked me if I wanted to get into the car with him. I saw that the car was a UN car because it was white with the black letters on it. The man had a badge on his clothes. When he stopped the car, we got out, he put a blindfold on me and started to abuse me. It was painful and went on for a long time. When it was over we went back to the place we had been, and he pushed me out of the car and left.”