U.S. pushing for repatriation of U.N. peacekeepers over sex abuse

The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York August 15, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (Reuters)

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States is pushing the United Nations Security Council to call for the repatriation of peacekeepers if there is a pattern of sexual exploitation and abuse by troops of a certain nationality or if a country fails to investigate accusations. The United Nations reported 99 allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse against U.N. staff members across the U.N. system last year, a sharp increase from the 80 allegations in 2014. The majority - 69 in all - involved personnel in 10 peacekeeping missions. Officials from the U.S. mission to the United Nations said they are drafting a Security Council resolution to use "the leverage of repatriation to really get member states ... to take this with the utmost seriousness that they should." "There is general agreement among Security Council members that we have a problem and we're having good discussions about what to do about it," said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Most recently there have been dozens of abuse accusations against international troops in Central African Republic (CAR). The United Nations pledged to crack down on allegations of abuse to avoid a repeat of past mistakes. The previous head of the U.N. mission in Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, resigned last August and some 800 Congolese peacekeepers were repatriated last month. The U.N. report released on Friday said there were seven accusations of sexual abuse against Congolese troops in CAR last year. U.S. officials said the draft U.N. resolution "specifically calls for countries that have either a pattern of abuse or evidence of non-responsiveness in terms of dealing with SEA (sexual exploitation and abuse) allegations" to have their troops repatriated. The United Nations currently has 106,000 troops and police serving in 16 peacekeeping missions. The United States pays for more than 28 percent of the more than $8.2 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget. A senior U.S. official said sexual exploitation and abuse allegations against U.N. troops "undermine not only peacekeeping missions but really the credibility of the U.N." "We're the largest financial contributor to peacekeeping and have an enormous vested interest in seeing peacekeeping be effective, being credible and actually doing what it is supposed to do, which is to protect civilians," the official said. Diplomats said the United States was planning to circulate its draft resolution to the 15-member council on Friday. They said the United States had also asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to brief the Security Council on the issue next week. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Andrea Ricci)