DAKAR, Senegal – A U.N. fund to help victims of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and U.N. staff has now grown to $1.5 million following contributions from 10 more countries including Sri Lanka, whose troops were implicated in a three-year-long child sex ring in Haiti.
The U.N. Department of Field Support made the announcement Thursday in New York, a week after a special session was held on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly to address the scourge of sexual violence by U.N. staff and peacekeepers in missions around the world.
The new contributions to the trust fund, which had previously been estimated at about $500,000, will initially be used to boost services for victims in Congo, according to the announcement.
“These contributions reinforce the Secretary-General’s clear commitment to putting the rights and dignity of victims first,” it said.
Projects are also expected in several of the other countries with high numbers of allegations — Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia.
A recent year-long investigation by news associations found that more than 700 of the approximately 2,000 allegations of sexual misconduct since 2004 had taken place in Congo, an enormous African country that is home to the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world.
The investigation found that the U.N. failed to meet many of its pledges to stop help victims, some of whom have been lost to a sprawling bureaucracy. Cases have disappeared, or have been handed off to the peacekeepers’ home countries — which often do nothing with them.
Justice is even more elusive, because the cases get referred to the alleged perpetrators’ home countries. The AP found that even after a U.N. investigation discovered a three-year child sex ring involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti, Sri Lanka prosecuted no one.
The South Asian country was among the 10 announced as contributors Thursday though it was not immediately clear how much the nation may have donated as no breakdown was made public. The announcement also noted that $102,000 of the money comes from withholding payments to alleged perpetrators in cases where complaints were substantiated.
Other new contributors to the fund whose peacekeepers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct include Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan. Albania, Canada, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland also have made unspecified donations, joining Bhutan, Cyprus, India, Japan and Norway, the U.N. said.