The United Nations is currently dealing with what it calls "a cancer in our system" -- namely, "peacekeepers" in the Central African Republic who have been paying to have sex with young teen girls.
According to The Washington Post, "[O]fficials have learned about what appears to be a fresh scandal. Investigators discovered this month that at least four U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic allegedly paid young girls as little as 50 cents in exchange for sex."
These allegations come after other reported abuses in the past 14 months, including "22 other incidents of alleged sexual abuse or sexual exploitation" despite a "zero tolerance" policy that is in place.
The report also mentions other regions, including Mali, South Sudan, Liberia and the Congo, where U.N. operatives have committed sex crimes against locals.
U.N. Assistance Secretary-General for Field Support Anthony Banbury said this "undermines everything we stand for."
The mission in the Central African Republic, where U.N. troops and civilians were sent in 2014 to help end a civil war and support a fledgling government, stands out for its record of sexual abuse and exploitation.
“They are preying on the people they’ve come to protect,” said Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the top U.N. official in the country.
The most recent allegations involve at least four peacekeepers who are accused of paying girls as young as 13 for sex at a camp for the internally displaced next to the international airport in Bangui, the capital. The site, known as M’Poko camp, is home to 20,000 people, mostly Christians. It is a vast agglomeration of white tents surrounding old, decaying airplanes, just yards from the airport runway.
Of course, the U.N., who sent troops to the region to help end the violence between Christians and Muslims, is not releasing the nationalities of those accused.
Despite this latest mar on their record, officials are pleased that sexual abuse has fallen among U.N. ranks since 2008. However, critics say too many incidents remain unreported by the impoverished girls who are threatened and exploited.