U.N. Peacekeepers in Haiti Said to Have Fathered Hundreds of Children

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(NYT21) PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Oct. 6, 2004 -- HAITI-1 -- Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers, in a joint operation with local police, look for suspects in a killing in a neighborhood loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2004 in Port-au-Prince. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

Elian Peltier

c.2019 The New York Times Company

 

United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti fathered and left behind hundreds of children, researchers found in a newly released academic study, leaving mothers struggling with stigma, poverty and single parenthood.

While the U.N. has acknowledged numerous instances of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in Haiti and elsewhere, the study on Haitian victims went farther in documenting the scope of the problem in that country — than had been previously known.

“Girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated” by peacekeepers, who were stationed in Haiti from 2004 to 2017, and some of the women were later “left in misery” to raise their children alone, according to the study by two academic researchers.

“They put a few coins in your hands to drop a baby in you,” one Haitian was quoted as saying by the researchers, whose work was published on Tuesday by The Conversation, an academic website supported by a consortium of universities.

The study, based on interviews with 2,500 Haitians who lived near peacekeeper bases in the summer of 2017, depicts a trail of abuse and exploitation left by some of the soldiers and civilians who served in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The new study, by Sabine Lee, a history professor at the University of Birmingham, and Susan Bartels, a clinician scientist at Queen’s University in Ontario, is the latest to document sexual misconduct by international peacekeeping forces.

Of the people interviewed by the authors, 265 told of children fathered by members of the peacekeeping force, who came from at least 13 countries but mostly Uruguay and Brazil.

While some mothers told the researchers of sexual violence by U.N. personnel, most of the stories recounted subtler forms of coercion, with peacekeepers trading small amounts of money or food for sex with women and girls who were often desperately poor. In other instances, women and their relatives described consensual relationships that ended when the peacekeepers left Haiti.

“I started to talk to him, then he told me he loved me and I agreed to date him,” a woman was quoted as saying of her relationship several years earlier with a peacekeeper. “Three months later, I was pregnant, and in September he was sent to his country.”