U.N. peacekeepers engaged in "transactional sex" with hundreds of Haitian women who said they needed to do so to obtain things like food and medication.
This is among the findings of a new U.N. report on the persistent problem of sexual abuse by its peacekeeping missions.
Those missions have about 125,000 people in some of the world's most troubled areas, including Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The report suggests that sexual exploitation remains significantly underreported in such missions.
A decade ago, a groundbreaking U.N. report first tackled the issue problem of sexual exploitation. But the new report reveals that major challenges remain.
Among its findings: About a third of alleged sexual abuse involves minors under 18. And widespread confusion remains on the ground about consensual sex and exploitation.
Investigators interviewed 231 people in Haiti who said they'd had transactional sexual relationships with U.N. peacekeepers.
"For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the 'triggering need,'" the report says. Urban and suburban women received "church shoes,' cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money," the report says.
"In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media."
It was not clear how many peacekeepers were involved.
For all of last year, the total number of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against members of all U.N. peacekeeping missions was 51, down from 66 the year before, according to the secretary-general's latest annual report on the issue.
The draft report doesn't say over what time frame the "transactional sex" in Haiti occurred. The peacekeeping mission there was first authorized in 2004. It is one of four peacekeeping missions that have accounted for the most allegations of sexual abuse in recent years, along with those in Congo, Liberia and South Sudan.
The U.N. prohibits "exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex," and it strongly discourages sexual relationships between U.N. staff and people who receive their assistance, saying they are "based on inherently unequal power dynamics" and undermine the world body's credibility.