The brutal truth about foreign troops occupying a country is that they almost always result in horrific abuses of the local population, even if the troops are there not to invade but as peacekeepers. There seems to be something in the dynamic of a powerful occupying force facing a defenseless local population that brings out the worst in some members of the former.
Reports coming out about French forces in the Central African Republic as part of a UN peacekeeping force are positively ghastly.
The United Nations’ failure to respond to allegations that French peacekeepers sexually abused children in Central African Republic amounted to “gross institutional failure” and allowed assaults to continue, according to an independent panel’s damning report released on Thursday.
The study, commissioned by the UN, found that children as young as nine were encouraged to take part in oral sex in exchange for food or money in the middle of a war zone. The alleged perpetrators were mainly French soldiers from a unit known as the Sangaris force which was operating under authorisation of the security council but not under UN command.
They abused very young children, taking advantage of their desperate need for water. How can any human being act like that? It boggles the mind.
The UN authorities initially stalled and blocked investigations. The person who first blew the whistle on the abuses was initially disciplined, another drearily predictable outcome, before later being exonerated.
The sad truth is that human depravity seems bottomless.