The United Nations is investigating a suspected child prostitution ring involving its peacekeepers and government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. mission said on Thursday.
Among accusations being investigated is that pimps are using the presence of U.N. peacekeepers to lure vulnerable girls to go and work as prostitutes in areas of South Kivu where they are deployed, the mission said in a statement.
The U.N.'s 17,000-strong Congo mission, which is known as MONUC and is in the vast African nation backing a string of peace deals and supporting elections following a 1998-2003 war, has been hit by a series of sex scandals. "Although the majority of their patrons are Congolese soldiers and civilians, some of the girls involved mentioned that elements of MONUC contingents based in the region were also among their clients," the statement said.
The mission said it had launched a special investigation to investigate the allegations and stressed that there would be "zero tolerance" of sexual abuses by its troops.
Last year, the U.N. barred peacekeepers in Congo from fraternizing with local people after investigations found some soldiers and civilian staff were guilty of rape and paedophilia including enticing hungry children with food or money in exchange for sex...