By Venatrix Fulmen - 13. January
A Call to End the Deadly Impact of Foreign Troopers on Innocent Civilians
+++Cholera+++RiftValleyFever+++MarburgFever+++DengueFever+++YellowFever+++HIV/AIDS+++Malaria+++AvianFlu+++SwineFlu++ +++HantaVirus+++ and so on – these lines run through the news tickers of media agencies every day.
In well-off societies, at least the pharmaceutical industries are interested in upping the media hype in order to encourage the purchase of preventive treatments or remedies, but in underdeveloped, natural-disaster-affected or outright war zones, nobody cares – except those dying from it and their immediate families.
The United Nations (UN) organization has finally set up an independent panel to investigate the source of cholera in Haiti. The move comes after accusations that UN peacekeepers from South Asia introduced the disease to the poverty-stricken country. The UN has previously denied any connection, and even now observers believe this UN investigation is just another exercise to bend pointing fingers.
However, fact is that since the outbreak began last October, thousands of people have died, and hundreds of thousands more have been infected by, a non-local strain of cholera in Haiti.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the scientific panel was necessary to "find answers that the people of Haiti deserve," and added: "There are several theories of the origins of the cholera outbreak in Haiti – not all reports have reached the same conclusion." He also said at a news conference in December 2010 that "there remain fair questions and legitimate concerns which demand the best answers that science can provide," stipulating that the panel would be "completely independent" and “have full access to UN premises and personnel.”
But the deadly cholera in Haiti is a “South Asia strain,” which is why Nepalese peacekeepers became the object of local suspicion – partly also because cholera is very rare in Haiti but endemic to Nepal. In November, the US Center for Disease Control found that the cholera strain in Haiti closely resembled a South Asian strain. Also a leaked study by epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, conducted on behalf of the French and Haitian governments, suggested the strain had been imported from South Asia. Sources who saw the report said it presented evidence the outbreak was caused by river contamination originating from the camp of the Nepalese troops. The Nepalese army denied the accusations, but finally admitted that their soldiers were not tested for cholera before being ordered to Haiti.
While the UN has said that health officials now estimate 650,000 people in Haiti could become infected with cholera over the next six months, nearly 250,000 people in the country have already contracted the disease. By now in January 2011 already over 3,500 people have died, according to Haitian health ministry data, due to this cholera outbreak and no way is in sight to achieve a mass immunization. Only 200,000 to 300,000 doses of vaccine against cholera are available worldwide, said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.
[Update February 20, 2013: Interestingly the actual statistics speak now about 650,000 cholera infected – means the counting stopped when the maximium estimate was reached and admitted now around 8,000 people already killed by the U.N. introduced disease.] Having no argument left, Ban Ki Moon – the U.N.’s secretary General – invoked "immunity".
More people have now died due to Cholera than initially were killed as a result of the devastating earthquake, which struck the country to the day one year ago.
The Nepalese peacekeepers were tasked with providing safety to the civilian population, but the protectors turned out to be deadly vectors.
UN SG Ban Ki-Moon and President Ram Baran Yadav (Nepal) should resign and take the responsibility for 4,500 Haitians having been killed by a Cholera strain introduced by unchecked, so-called UN Peace-Keepers from Nepal into Haiti.
At the end of last year, news of a Yellow Fever outbreak finally came out in Uganda, even though the deadly disease had actually struck much earlier.
Yellow fever is an acute viral, potentially fatal, hemorrhagic disease transmitted by the female, mainly Aedes aegypti, mosquitoes. Left untreated, the disease which was thought to have been eradicated in most areas has an estimated 50% mortality rate.
The poor state of Uganda’s health system is clearly evidenced by the fact that the Yellow Fever outbreak, which so far has killed over 45 people and sickened another 183, began in early November 2010, but was not even confirmed as yellow fever until December 23.
Although Uganda – with the help of the often criticized alliance formed between the pharmaceutical industry and affiliated aid-funds – is now planning to inoculate 2.5 million residents in the East African nation’s northern districts, the most important hygienic measure, which is the contention of the outbreak to a small location, is lacking.
The U.S.-American military has imposed strictest controls in their camps, which were set up in Northern Uganda in anticipation of renewed fighting in Southern Sudan, but Uganda has not. Fighting could possibly be triggered by the ongoing referendum on the secession of the South from the North. The movements of people from the areas affected by Yellow Fever, who return to Southern Sudan to cast their vote, might further spread the outbreak.
The specific mosquitoes transmitting the disease are also prevalent in Sudan and even in Somalia, which just received another batch of Ugandan soldiers. Nobody in Mogadishu verified if these soldiers had their Yellow Fever vaccination and were free of the disease.
While there is no cultural stigma associated with monitoring Yellow Fever, the direct correlation between human behaviour and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is completely ignored within the so-called peace-keeping missions.
SEX AS WEAPON – THE DOUBLE-EDGED DAGGER OF BUSINESS IN WAR AND PEACE
Already in 1995, the UN declared that "forcing women to render sexual services is sexual slavery, a violation of their human rights, and that sexual slavery imposed by the military is a war crime.”
But as far as atrocities committed by UN peacekeepers in Africa are concerned, a 1996 study by Graca Machel on the impact of armed conflict on children revealed a rise in sex trafficking of women and children in areas where peacekeeping forces were operating.
K.J Allred stated the following in Peacekeepers and Prostitutes: How Deployed Forces Fuel the Demand for Trafficked Women and New Hope for Stopping it (Armed Forces Soc. 33(1). p. 5-23): "On numerous occasions in the past fifteen years, U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing the populations they serve. A Comprehensive Review of peacekeeper misconduct completed in 2005 identified significant problems and recommended numerous changes to address them.”
The U.S.-American Army and NATO, in a response to the possibility that their deployed troops might engage in, or facilitate, human trafficking, have enacted new policies intending to prevent their troops from getting entangled in the business fuelled by the demand for women trafficked for sexual services. The U.S. Department of Defense and NATO initiatives are similar to those being considered by the UN for preventing sexual misconduct by its peacekeepers. Because the United States of America, NATO, and the United Nations are all addressing the problems of sexual misconduct by deployed troops, their efforts should be mutually reinforcing.
For researcher Allred, the examples of U.S.-American and NATO armed forces therefore offered hope that the United Nations would also enact strong measures to prevent future misconduct by its peacekeepers.
But Max du Plessis and Stephen Pete argue in Who Guards the Guards:
“At the very least, allegations of serious atrocities committed by peacekeepers date back to the time of the UN peacekeeping mission to Somalia in 1997. Canadian, Belgian and Italian peacekeeping troops were alleged to have been involved in atrocities. For example, certain Italian peacekeepers were alleged to have pinned a man to the ground and shocked his genitals with wires from a radio generator, while other Italian troops were alleged to have bound a woman to an armoured truck and raped her with a flare gun. Belgian peacekeepers were alleged to have roasted a boy over an open fire until his clothes caught alight. Canadian soldiers were alleged to have conducted a ‘turkey shoot’ by setting out food and water to act as ‘bait’ to lure hungry Somalis into shooting range. They were also alleged to have beaten a 16-year-old Somali boy to death after raping him with a baton. In most of these cases there was ‘hard evidence’ in the form of photographs taken of the incidents by the offending peacekeepers themselves. Some of the soldiers involved were charged by the military authorities of their countries of origin, and some even received short sentences of imprisonment. Others were not charged or were set free after investigation.”
In 1994 staff of ECOTERRA Intl. was attacked not only for having uncovered and openly denounced in 1993 that medical doctors sent by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies carried out female genital mutilations in Somalia but more threatening and dangerous for having shortly thereafter busted an Italo-Russian network, which smuggled Somali women and girls from their war-torn homeland as prostitutes and sex-objects for the Muslim soldiers among the peacekeeping troops serving in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The perfidy in this case was that the human traffickers and pimps just brought the women and girls from one war zone into another under the false pretence that they were saving them from the dangers of war.
It is bad enough that during war and armed conflict rape is frequently used and even encouraged as a means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate and undermine the morale of the enemy, something that also occurred frequently in the wars following the downfall of the former Yugoslavia. But the trafficking of women, underage girls as well as children for the only apparent purpose of satisfying the sick pleasures of so-called peacekeepers, constitutes an outrageous war crime, for which none of its chief organizers or clients has ever been prosecuted.
Ten years later, the head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit, Gita Sahgal, spoke out in 2004 with regard to the fact that prostitution and sex abuse crops up wherever humanitarian intervention efforts are set up. She observed: "The issue with the UN is that peacekeeping operations unfortunately seem to be doing the same thing that other militaries do. Even the guardians have to be guarded."
Meanwhile in Congo, the U.N. at least asked India not to send a replacement for one of its peacekeeping contingents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), shortly after some Indian security personnel faced charges of sexual misconduct there. In an alleged sex-for-cash scandal, around 10 Indian Army soldiers from the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles stationed in the DRC were accused of having sex with prostitutes, which obviously was just the tip of the iceberg of sexual atrocities committed in Congo.
Like always, also back then promises were made. Sources within the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) told the Press Trust of India that an IAF team deployed under the peace-keeping operation in Congo MONUC (U.N. mission in Congo) would be completing its tenure there during the following month. “But the U.N. has asked us not to send its replacement,” the source stated.
And after the complaints were made, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony had reportedly ordered the military to undertake a thorough investigation. But no result of any such investigation has come to light yet, even though UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged India to take "disciplinary action to the maximum degree permitted by Indian law" against those involved in the sexual abuse scandal.
Still in July 2004 a senior member of MONUC, speaking on condition of anonymity to Kate Holt, who was working at the time for the London newspaper The Independent, called the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS) enquiry “a joke,” and further stated: "The UN has no authority to follow through on any of the investigations currently made. At most, after a lengthy process, they can repatriate an individual, but they cannot see those cases followed through in the country of origin. There is total impunity for MONUC soldiers, and this is a deep cause for concern.”
Kate Holt didn’t give up to ring the bell, and she found even more examples demonstrating the oppression of the truth within the UN system, which was published in 2005 under the title: Sex and the UN: when peacemakers become predators.
The story led to Kofi Annan announcing a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy to the issue. But Kate Holt went on to uncover an extensive cover-up by the UN in New York of the issue which led directly to the resignation of the High Commissioner for Refugees and former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Ruud Lubbers. She exposed the findings of an OIOS report that cited Lubbers had sexually harassed members of his staff. The report had been hidden by the UN and was never published. Lubbers had finally to go, but also the messenger was targeted.
Despite high level statements, the problems persist and concern also the former French colonies in Africa, which are in a second liberation move. In a classified cable – freshly leaked by WikiLeaks and with the subject: MOROCCAN TROOPS IN COTE D’IVOIRE: INVESTIGATION OF MOROCCAN PEACEKEEPERS ON SEX ABUSE CHARGES – US ambassador Thomas Riley stated on 01. August 2007: "In response to the points conveyed reftel, MFA [Maroccan Foreign Affairs] Chief of International Organizations Section Nasser Bourita told us on July 26 that the GOM [Government of Morocco] takes the accusations of sexual misconduct against its troops in Ivory Coast seriously, and is sending a high level military delegation to join the UN inquiry. He feels, however, that the GOM troops are scapegoats for larger problems surrounding the discipline of UN peacekeepers in Africa." Surely enough nobody got punished until today, though reportedly the Moroccan King himself looked into the matter.
Thereby it becomes clear that the protection, which a sexual offender in the field often receives, is regularly backed by sympathizers and similar predators in highest offices back home. The avalanche of discoveries in recent years involving especially the Catholic Church concerning the sexual misconduct of their spiritual troopers in the field of religious strife shows that similar structures have been in place for a long time. "The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church," Pope Benedict told journalists travelling with him to Portugal with reference to street demonstrations protesting also against Portugal’s elite linked to a paedophile ring.
Former secretary of state for families in Portugal, Mrs. Teresa Costa Macedo, said she had sent a dossier containing photographs and testimonies from children to the police 20 years ago but they had done nothing about it, while she was subjected to a campaign of threats. And referring to one predator, she said to The Guardian: "He [orphanage employee Carlos Silvino] was just one element in a huge paedophile network that involved important people in our country. It wasn’t just him. He was a procurer of children for well-known people who range from diplomats and politicians to people linked to the media." Even the former president of Potugal, General Ramalho Eanes, was allegedly among those who knew about abuse at the home but failed to stop it. Also Belgian and Dutch paedophile groups are reported to have operated in Portugal, with foreigners travelling to the island of Madeira to seek out young children for them from a pool, which also harbours migrant refugee children from African war thorn countries. Mrs Macedo as well as investigators from the Swiss-based group Innocence in Danger and others received anonymous threats in the process of uncovering these crimes, while real attacks have been carried out against front-line human rights investigators in Africa and South-America.
In the Portuguese scandal at least a former ambassador and one of Portugal’s most famous television presenters were among six men found guilty in September 2010 of involvement with a paedophile prostitution ring that exploited children from state-run orphanages. Insiders, however, claim that even much higher ranks were and still are involved in similar nets. Although sometimes someone now lifts the lid on these state-secrets of sexual abuse in Europe and North-America, little is done in the developing world and especially not when countries are in a war situation. War zones with their uncontrollable grey-zones of social upheaval and turmoil seem to attract paedophiles, child-traffickers as well as all other sorts of sexual predators and the regularly involved organized crime networks.
Especially child trafficking and in general trafficking in people appears to also be extremely bad in Yemen and its civil-war zones and as well illegal adoptions in Egypt, according to recently WikiLeaked U.S. embassy cables, while the experiences in Haiti during the chaos after the last earthquake showed similarly apaling situations.
And such appalling situations are not always triggered only by male predator’s demands at home or in foreign lands and the surrounding organized, trans-boundary criminal gangs. “Women are selling their bodies to get out of Mogadishu,” Roberta Russo of the UNHCR’s Somalia team told the German Press Agency DPA in a telephone interview from Kenya in June 2009. Testimonies collected by the agency indicate that many people are unable to flee, as they cannot afford the transport fares out of the capital.
Russo noted the case of one woman, aged 23, who said she had become a prostitute to gather enough money to reach the coast. There, she would continue to charge for sex in order to gather enough funds to pay someone to smuggle her into Yemen. “This is not an isolated case,” said Russo, but it certainly aggravates a situation in a country, which before 1991 and the war, had the lowest HIV prevalence of any African state.
HIV / AIDS
Just before an additional contingent of Ugandan soldiers recently was sent to Mogadishu, a study of HIV-positive people in fishing communities on the shores of Lake Victoria in central Uganda found that more than a quarter have "super-infections" that jeopardize both treatment and prevention efforts.
Already in 2009 the United Nations’ refugee agency warned of “widespread rape” and a rise in prostitution in Somalia, as the Horn of Africa country sank deeper into chaos. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman in Geneva, William Spindler, said “serious atrocities” were being carried out by parties to the conflict. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes in “some of the heaviest and bloodiest street battles” in the capital Mogadishu since the latest outbreak of fighting between government forces and opposition Islamist groups began in early May 2010, he said. In January 2011, Somali president Sheik Sharif went so far as to claim that rape has become standard procedure among Muslim fundamentalists, who harbour numerous foreign fighters from abroad. Taken all together, this makes a perfect scenario for the rapid spread of HIV in epidemic proportions.
Despite the widespread availability of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, one could assume that a smaller number of people would feel that they will die anyway, and therefore could give their life meaning by becoming suicide-bombers or front-line fighters for an adopted cause, though the mindset of suitable candidates for such deadly missions might only be understood by the masterminds, who lead the disturbed souls to such a horrible end. The cause-and-effect relationship between rape or HIV infection and the decision to volunteer for such missions has so far not really been studied, but the increasing number of female suicide bombers raises serious questions.
In addition to women selling their bodies to escape a war that neither the imposed Somali government nor the international community have been able to end, Somali rapists run rampant among the uprooted society, and to boot, foreign insurgents or soldiers from countries where HIV super-infections have appeared are raping women and girls and purchasing the unprotected services of female and male prostitutes. Apocalyptic.
Alex de Waal in his bold article: Fucking Soldiers writes:
“Uganda’s Chief of Staff, General James Kazini, again remarked that AIDS was a major problem in the Ugandan army. At war in Congo and Sudan and now Somalia, the army has lost its earlier discipline and dedication and is now better known for corruption. Despite constant military operations and attendant casualties, more than half the deaths in service are reported to be AIDS-related. Soldiers who have been tested HIV positive have also criticised the army for the way they have been treated: medication has not been provided for them or their families, and they have been victims of discrimination.”
And Alex de Waal adds:
"Another, less well-known case of the military containing AIDS is Ethiopia. In 1996, discovering that the army had an infection rate of 6% (higher among senior officers), the Chief of Staff, General Tsadkan Gebretinsae designated fighting AIDS as its number one priority. Six years later, while Ethiopia’s national HIV prevalence has risen to over 7% and the national AIDS campaign has stagnated, the army still has a prevalence of just 6%. In the interim it has recruited more than 250,000 men for a war with Eritrea, fought that war, and invaded Somalia in 2005.”
Although the African Union recently embarked on a campaign to highlight the plight of women, and especially of girls and girl-children – some only two years old – being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to countries outside Africa, the group effectively is doing nothing to stop these horrific crimes.
In fact, the African Union charters and declarations are full of buzz-words, honourable intentions and promises, but nothing is legally binding. Thereby nothing is enforcing real change, and nothing is said about sexual conduct or health checks for AU forces either.
While the United Nations code of conduct in Congo and elsewhere, at least in theory, prohibits active peacekeepers from soliciting prostitutes, nothing of the sort can be found in the AU statutes. That is taboo and especially concerning countries like Somalia it is not even discussed. But rumour has it that the dispatch of Ugandan soldiers to Somalia was pushed for by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a Christian fundamentalist, not only to line his pockets with plenty of dollars from the proceeds of troop deployments, which are mainly funded by the U.S.A., where his friends from the cult-like and secretive evangelical breakfast-prayer-movement call the shots. It is also said that this gives the Ugandan chief of staff the opportunity and pleasure to send as cannon fodder his misbehaving or chronically ill soldiers to war with Muslim fundamentalists. A good number of sources, who observe these troops in Mogadishu, even claim that the majority of these men are not trained soldiers but street boys from Kampala – rounded up and put in uniform.
In her in-depth study Prostituting Peace, author Alexandra R. Harrington presented a clear picture of the penal codes and, to the extent that they are available to the public, the military laws of sending states, which have had allegations of sexual and other misconduct made against their peacekeepers, as well as the socio-legal structures of these states, which inform law and society in regards to sexual and other crimes.
Harrington elaborates that prostitution has many meanings:
“Its most obvious meaning is in the context of selling sexual relations for monetary or other gain. However, it is not only in this way that people can be prostituted and, certainly, it is possible to prostitute not just people but also other factors. Many nations and societies have outlawed the act of prostitution in its transactional sense. Prostitution of commonly held human values has also been theoretically outlawed within the international community, with torture, genocide, and discrimination against women and girls being only a few areas of international legal focus. In order to stop the prostitution of peoples, and the prostitution of peace by forces of violence and of oppression, the UN created peacekeeping operations to assist the local populations affected by such conflicts and to implement political measures intended to restore calm.
However, in the process of its peacekeeping missions, the UN has itself given rise to the prostitution of the idea of peace it seeks to foster. This prostituting of peace has happened for over several decades now and has, until recently, gone largely unnoticed or was accepted by the international community generally, and by legal scholars in particular.
And yet, despite the public outcry from the UN and the general public, and despite reform proposals commissioned by the UN itself, this prostitution of peace continues to happen unabated by law.
To date, the focus of law in regards to this problem has been – and this must be emphasized – that the UN cannot itself try peacekeepers for sexual or other misconduct. To therefore commend the UN for just remanding errant peacekeepers to their sending states, which only in theory do exercise jurisdiction over them, is not justified, as long as the legal and socio-legal structures of sending states whose peacekeepers commit sexual and other crimes abroad while deployed to a UN peacekeeping mission remain unexamined by the UN and the prosecution in their home-country is not followed up.”
The author demonstrated clearly that there is indeed a link between the laws and the socio-legal structure of deploying states, and the morally corrupt, unethical or illegal acts committed by their peacekeepers
But testing troops for HIV, STDs and other communicable diseases is so far unheard of in the African Union, and when the AU troops are unleashed onto other populations, the local authorities and their institutions already have deteriorated to such extent that their control function is no longer given.
At the end of 2010, the UN Security Council voted to increase the number of African Union protection troops supporting Somalia’s transitional government and called on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to increase troops from 8,000 to 12,000, a move aimed at "enhancing its ability to carry out its mandate" to stabilize the lawless, war-battered country.
But in this country, where the people never did, and still do not want the AU protection force, or any other foreign military for that matter, and certainly not their diseases nor their meanwhile documented atrocities, the deployment of foreign soldiers must therefore be seen as triple rape.
IT IS TIME TO ACT
While sexual misconduct in a war zone can never be ruled out completely, and therefore guarding systems must be put and kept in place, the mental and physical health of foreign troops sent on peacekeeping missions can and must be 100% controlled.
To end this horrible segment of warfare, the affected populations and human rights organizations working in countries with peacekeeping missions therefore demand:
> Zero tolerance for any form of sexual exploitation committed by foreign troopers among the population they have to protect and
> Zero tolerance against any disease they might carry and bring into the land, which is not theirs.
In practical terms this means:
- Compulsory physical as well as psychological health testing for all personnel deployed to other countries by foreign states must be a standard procedure.
- Sending states as well as receiving states have the full duty to ensure this standard.
- A completely new regime to screen the peace-keepers and security contractors must be developed and implemented, and
- Until the moment arrives, when such regimes can and will effectively be implemented and are enforced, the deployment of foreign troops or other security personnel with potential rapists, sexual offenders and traffickers among them, or as deadly disease vectors must be stopped.
This work by ECOTERRA International was first published on now hi-jacked groundreport.com and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International