US Senate threatens to reduce UN funding due to sexual abuse cases

Key US Senators threaten to reduce United Nations funding due to sexual abuse cases committed by UN peacekeepers

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

French soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, the capital and largest city of the Central African Republic.

Influential US senators accused on Wednesday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of incompetence for failing to end sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers. 

"What is wrong with the secretary-general of the UN?... How do we put up with such inept leadership at the United Nations?" Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said and added that he was "disgusted" by the abuse cases.

They threatened to withhold UN crucial funding over the abuse cases.

"I think the UN is in great jeopardy of building enough critical mass around here where severe penalties should be taken against them with withholding of funds from them because of their ineptness," Corker said.

Bob Corker (center, standing) speaks with fellow Republican senators. (AP)

UN peacekeeper abuse cases are a main topic of discussion during the meetings at UN headquarters taking into account a slew of rape claims leveled against blue-helmeted peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban was "determined to continue to shine a spotlight on the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and hold those responsible accountable."

"However, this is a fight that no one person can lead alone," Dujarric added. "Member states are the only ones who have the power to swiftly bring to justice those who have committed crimes and to impose the strongest possible disciplinary and criminal sanctions."

US Ambassador to the UN for management Isobel Coleman said countries that contribute UN peacekeepers were often reluctant to punish those who commit abuses.

"I don't think it's ineptitude," Coleman said. "I think it is a reluctance to take on the opposition of troop contributing countries that don't want to deal with this issue in the transparent way that it must be dealt with."

The first group of United Nations peacekeepers went on trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday in huge sex abuse scandal that emerged after complaint of some hundred people, most of them minors.

About 18 soldiers from UN and France’s Sangaris force also to be prosecuted for similar charges including rape, rape attempt as well as the three Congolese men went on trial April 4.

The United Nations said last week it has expanded sex abuse investigation of foreign peacekeepers in Central African Republic. UN officials said they have interviewed some 108 alleged victims.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was shocked to the core by the allegations of abuse in the Central African Republic.

Ensuring the medical and psycho-social support for victims, Dujarric said 11 of UN’s Tanzanian peace keepers were facing paternity claims.

A French soldier on patrol in the Central African Republic. (AFP Archive)

According to the MINUSCA interviews in 2014, "four girls were tied up and undressed inside a camp by a military commander from the Sangaris force.”

The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, which was initially put in place during a civil war that took place in 1998-2003, is the world's largest, with around 20,000 uniformed personnel.

Following the allegations, the mission’s head Babacar Gaye has resigned last August while some 800 Congolese peacekeepers were repatriated last month.

TRTWorld and agencies