PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The Haitian girl known Victim No. 1 was 12 when she first had sex with a Sri Lankan peacekeeper. She says she didn’t even have breasts yet.
The boy, known as Victim No. 9, was 15 when his ordeal began. Over the course of three years, he said he had sex with more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, averaging about four a day.
From 2004 to 2007, nine Haitian children were exploited by a child sex ring involving at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, according to a U.N. report obtained by The Associated Press.
Often the children were given cookies or a few dollars in exchange for sex. Although 114 of the peacekeepers were sent home, none was ever jailed for the abuse.
Justice for victims is rare. An Associated Press investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years found an estimated 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and U.N. personnel around the world — signaling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, the AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators were jailed.
In March, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced new measures to tackle peacekeeper misconduct. But the proclamation had a depressingly familiar ring: More than a decade ago, the United Nations commissioned a report that promised to do much the same thing, yet most of the reforms never materialized.
For a full two years after those promises were made, the children in Haiti were passed around from soldier to soldier. And in the years since, peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse the world over.
In response to the AP’s investigation, the head of the U.N. office that oversees the conduct of peacekeepers said Wednesday that progress was being made with member states to hold perpetrators accountable and to get victims help.
“Every single allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. personnel, be it uniformed or civilian, is appalling,” Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare said. “Everyone, especially us, are aware of the shortcomings in the system. We believe we are advancing in the right direction, especially with the secretary-general’s new approach.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been calling for reforms in the United Nations for more than a year. He may well get them under President Donald Trump, whose administration has proposed a 31 percent reduction to the U.S. foreign aid and diplomacy budget.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours are continuing to press ahead with their climate change agenda and push the concept of renewable energy despite the new position taken by the United States.
This was made clear by the Minister of the Environment and Drainage in Barbados, Dr. Denis Lowe, against the background of the position taken by U.S. President Donald Trump that climate change is a “hoax”, and his subsequent push for the revitalisation of the coal industry, and the issuance of an Executive Order to restart the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The moment has come. The President of the United States of America has determined that climate change is really a hoax, and that any notion about climate change science is based on false belief, and that there is no clear justification that this phenomenon called climate change exists,” Lowe said.
However, the Environment Minister pointed out that while Trump was “decrying” the legitimacy of climate change, 2016 was already being labelled as the warmest ocean temperature year.
“The impact of that accelerated warmth of the earth, according to American environmentalists, is the Michigan coastline, Lake Michigan. Evidence has been produced to show that the impact of climate change has affected that whole seaboard area, including the erosion of beaches along the Illinois Coast. This is a fact as reported,” he said.
Dr. Lowe cautioned that the new US position spelled “bad news” for the Caribbean.
He warned that the new position could see a significant reduction in funding from the United States to the United Nations system, which was the primary driver of the climate change fight.
“Institutions like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Green Climate Fund will be impacted. The Adaptation Fund will be affected, and all of the other activities driven by US-donated funding will be impacted,” he pointed out.
But Lowe stressed that the region could not allow itself to be “hemmed in” by what might or might not occur relating to international funding.
He gave the assurance that his Ministry and Government would continue “to plough” ahead and look for unique ways to fund the island’s coastal rehabilitation and green energy programmes.
“We stand ready to do what needs to be done. Our Ministry continues to work with our stakeholders to look for ways to continue to press ahead with our climate change agenda,” Lowe said.
“We ask Barbadians from all walks of life to assist us in adopting and practising habits that would reduce the impacts of climate change on us as it relates to our water supply, our conservation effort, and our preservation efforts in terms of our spaces around the island that would be of importance,” he added.
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL), on Thursday announced the introduction of flights to the Argyle International Airport, starting on Friday, April 14.
CAL said the flights will operate twice weekly – on Friday and Sunday between Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are excited about this launch of our 19th destination. Caribbean Airlines is in the business of connecting people and the St Vincent service will develop closer links for commerce throughout the region,” Chief Executive Officer, Captain Jagmohan Singh said.
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived here on a surprise visit for talks with leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) who were resuming their 64th summit on Wednesday.
Maduro was treated to a red-carpet welcome when he landed at the Argyle International Airport, which was built with support from the South American nation.
His visit comes less than two months after he was originally scheduled to attend the ceremonial opening of the multi-million dollar airport.
He was met by Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker and Venezuelan diplomats based here.
Kingstown and Caracas have maintained and deepened their ties and the island is one of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have benefited from Venezuela’s PetroCaribe, an initiative aimed at providing oil at a cheaper price to several countries..
Under PetroCaribe, participating nations can import fuel from Venezuela under preferential payment arrangements. Participating nations say the imitative have been an important social buffered amidst harsher economic realities after the global financial crisis of 2008.
Maduro, who was in Cuba attending the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America-Trade Treaty of the People (ALBA-TCP), earlier this week, is expected to meet with the leaders of the OECS sub-region who are meeting here under the chairmanship of the St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.
The OECS Commission in announcing the continuation of the summit here gave no indication that Maduro, who is facing tremendous opposition at home over his government policies, would meet with the leaders.
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Two candidates of the ruling New National party (NNP) who contested the 2013 general elections will not be contesting the upcoming poll constitutionally due next year but widely expected to be held later this year.
In a statement, the NNP said that it would soon be launching caretakers in five constituencies during the month of April, the first in a series scheduled for the coming months.
Among the caretakers is Peter David, who had represented the Town of St. George constituency as a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and represented the constituency from 2003 to 2013.
The constituency is now being represented by Health Minister Nicholas Steele, who has also been named as a caretaker.
David was one of many NDC executive members who were expelled from the party in 2012. Since then he has aligned himself with the NNP serving as a government senator in the Upper House of Parliament.
He has been appointed the caretaker for the Town of St George, adding “I am grateful for the confidence that has been shown in me by the general executive of the NNP, and by the party supporters at large, in town.
“We have a lot of work to do together – and we will get down to ensuring that the seat stays in the column of the NNP,” David said.
The former foreign minister said that he has worked closely with Steele in recent years “to unite all of our people.
“We believe that the challenges we continue to face as a nation, despite the awe-inspiring successes, call for a sense of unity like we have never seen in our history. There are too many possibilities out there for anyone to govern over a divided nation,” David said.
The research unit attached to the world-renowned Christie cancer hospital has been evacuated.Read more...
Newcastle United and West Ham's grounds are being searched by revenue and customs officials.Read more...
Islam and Ahmed met online, looking for their "happily ever after" through a Muslim dating site.Read more...
The military exercise took place around 15 miles from the border with North Korea.Read more...