In a shocking report out this week, a former U.N. official accuses the agency of harboring hundreds, if not thousands, of criminals in its foreign service, and claims that U.N. aid workers have committed more than 60,000 rapes and sexual assaults over the course of the last decade.
The Times of London reports that Andrew MacLeod, the former “chief of operations at the U.N.’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre” told U.N. officials last month that “he estimated that 60,000 rapes had been carried out by UN staff in the past decade, with 3,300 paedophiles working in the organisation and its agencies.”
MacLeod also told officials that he believed sexual predators specifically applied for foreign aid jobs so that they could get closer to vulnerable populations, including helpless women and children living in abject poverty.
“There are tens of thousands of aid workers around the world with paedophile tendencies, but if you wear a Unicef T-shirt nobody will ask what you’re up to,” MacLeod told the Sun newspaper. “You have the impunity to do whatever you want. It is endemic across the aid industry across the world. The system is at fault, and should have stopped this years ago.”
MacLeod’s report does come with caveats: his number is estimated based on extrapolating information contained in a U.N. Secretary General’s report issued last year, which said there had been 103 allegations of sexual abuse made against members of the U.N.’s peacekeeping and foreign aid teams in one segment of Africa in 2016, and half of those allegations had multiple victims.
Assuming only one in 10 cases gets reported, and that the teams in Africa are generally representative of U.N. foreign aid teams overall, MacLeod suggested that tens of thousands of cases could occur every year.
Regardless of whether the 60,000 number is correct, the allegations that the U.N. could be harboring sexual predators in its midst is shocking, and echoes allegations made against other massive foreign aid agencies, like Oxfam. That group, which also has aid workers all over the world, is now accused of covering up hundreds of reports of abuse.