Wednesday, May 26, 2004
More than useless: I've often written that the United Nations is a mostly-useless organization. Some of the world's worst abusers of human rights are regularly placed on its Human Rights committee; the Middle East's lone democracy is regularly attacked by racist Arab and Muslim nations; it regularly ignores massacres and genocide around the world; and the list goes on.
Sometimes, however, it crosses that line between benign irrelevance to active evil.
Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.
The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 - the victims of multiple rape by militiamen - can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.
Testimony from girls and aid workers in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Bunia, in the north-east corner of Congo, claims that every night teenage girls crawl through a wire fence to an adjoining UN compound to sell their bodies to Moroccan and Uruguayan soldiers.
The trade, which according to one victim results in a banana or a cake to feed to her infant son, is taking place despite a pledge by the UN to adopt a "zero tolerance" attitude to cases of sexual misconduct by those representing the organisation.
You'd think that after repeated incidents like this, that even the most hopelessly optimistic internationalist would pause to reconsider whether the U.N. deserves the reverence they give it.