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Last updated on June 10th, 2017 at 06:43 am
“Ignore an issue and it fades,” announces the Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey. “Look at Iraq. People are still dying there, every day, Iraqi and American alike. Yet who cares? Not many.”
Of course, some observers have been paying a great deal of attention to Iraq. And to the UN’s oil-for-food and food-for-sex scandals, about which Ramsey’s paper hasn’t exactly been screaming. Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans is among those hopeful of becoming the next UN High Commissioner for Refugees; meanwhile, it’s business as usual for our dovey pals abroad:
The reputation of United Nations peacekeeping missions suffered a humiliating blow yesterday as an internal report identified repeated patterns of sexual abuse and rape perpetrated by soldiers supposed to be restoring the international rule of law.
The highly critical study, published by Jordan’s ambassador to the UN assembly, was endorsed by the organisation’s embattled secretary general, Kofi Annan, who condemned such “abhorrent acts” as a “violation of the fundamental duty of care”.
The embarrassment caused by the misconduct of UN forces in devastated communities around the world – including Haiti, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Cambodia , East Timor and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – has become an increasingly high profile, political problem.
Allegations have recently surfaced that troops sent to police Liberia were regularly having sex with girls aged as young as 12, sometimes in the mission’s administrative buildings.
In the DRC, peacekeepers were said to have offered abandoned orphans small gifts – as little as two eggs from their rations, says the report – for sexual encounters.