“United Nations forces in Haiti have become as familiar as the country’s barren hillsides,” writes Kathie Klarreich, in the opening of a new 100Reporters series on the conduct of UN troops in Haiti. The international troops first arrived in 1993, and have been there on and off ever since. Most recently, they came in 2004 to quell post-election violence. The blue helmets managed to restore a measure of stability, but critics say they have fostered a culture of exploitation and impunity.
Today, five years after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, 100Reporters looks at the United Nations’ legacy of sexual assault in that country. While Haiti is home to only seven percent of UN forces deployed worldwide, troops there account for some 26 percent of the complaints of sexual exploitation and assault. Justice is virtually unheard of. In most instances, troops are simply sent home, and victims never testify before a court or see their rapists punished. The children they leave behind become the responsibilities of their already impoverished mothers. According to a UN report last year, to the organization’s knowledge, not a single paternity claim against UN troops has led to a Haitian mother receiving child support from the children’s fathers.
“This is not fair,” said Olga Benoit-Felix, a representative of the nonprofit FANM Solidarité Ayisyen, a victim’s advocacy group. “This is unjustice.”