Sending UN peacekeepers two years ago to “rebuild” southern Sudan hasn’t brought peace, but according to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, it has allegedly brought what is becoming one of the signature activities of UN forces in Africa: peacekeeper rape… of children. According to the Telegraph, UNICEF has been sitting on an internal report of such abuses, and the Telegraph itself has gathered accounts of more than 20 alleged victims, and suggests there may have been hundreds of such cases. Here’s the story, headlined: “UN Staff Accused of Raping Children in Sudan.”
This follows reports over the past three years of UN peacekeeper rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Liberia, in Burundi, in Haiti — pick your country, and you can safely assume the UN has either denied it, refused to comment, or insisted that there is a zero tolerance policy for such abuse. Will someone please explain why on earth the new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, should for one millisecond entertain the idea of keeping on staff Kofi Annan’s head of peacekeeping these past six years, Jean-Marie Guehenno?
Or (scroll down under the link to Guehenno, for more on these two) why there should be a demand for the further services of Guehenno’s two top aides? These would be a former chief operating officer of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, who joined Guehenno’s staff as Assistant-Secretary-General in 2003, Jane Holl Lute; and Assistant Secretary-General Hedi Annabi — who was working as director of UN peacekeeping in Africa back when Kofi Annan, then head of peacekeeping himself, in 1994, was in all his neutral rectitude waiting out the Rwandan genocide. One could go on and on, from the massacre at Srebenica; to, more recently, the UN peacekeepers who sat in their UNIFIL bases for six years in southern Lebanon while under their noses Hezbollah trucked in weapons, built bunkers, kidnapped Israeli soldiers and last summer launched a war; to the corruption scandals of recent times surrounding a raft of peacekeeping procurement operations for such stuff as fuel and rations. Note to Ban: Before the UN does any more peacekeeping, how about some housecleaning?