After sexual misconduct allegations shook the humanitarian and aid industry involving Oxfam, Save the Children, and ICRC comes another controversy and potential scandal this time involving no less than the United Nations and its mission in South Sudan. The U.N. says it has recalled a 46-member peacekeeping unit after some members allegedly paid local women living in a protection camp for sex.
A complaint was received by the U.N. on February 8 alleging that members of the Ghanaian Formed Police Unit (FPU) were engaging in sexual activity with women living at the UN Protection of Civilians site in Wau. A probe was promptly carried ut by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), an independent office within the United Nations.
Part of the information received suggested that some members of the FPU allegedly engaged in transactional sex.
A statement from the U.N. also says the Ghanaian policemen have been recalled from Wau to the capital, Juba.
David Shearer, the U.N. chief in South Sudan calls the incident a “clear breach” of the code of conduct which blatantly prohibits sexual relationship with vulnerable people.
The U.N. statement was quick to clarify, however, that the allegations against some Ghanaian peacekeepers in question were not reflective of the whole contingent of Ghanaian peacekeepers.
South Sudan government spokesman Michael Makuei also expressed their country’s displeasure and indignation with the shocking discovery. He said: “We should not have such people in this country.” The United Nations keep a strong force in war-torn South Sudan with 170,000 peacekeepers.
Shocking as it was for some people, this is not exactly the first time that the body is hit by such a scandal. The U.N. has in recent years actually struggled to deal with numerous cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers in some of the world’s poorest nations.