The UN peacekeepers arrive; months later, some leave infants behind. Now the United Nations has quietly started to offer DNA testing to help prove paternity claims and ensure support for the so-called "peacekeeper babies." It's a delicate step, as countries that contribute UN troops might not welcome a practice that could prove not only fatherhood but wrongdoing. Of the dozen paternity claims received last year, four were associated with alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The new effort comes a decade after a groundbreaking report on sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers suggested that the UN secretary-general take action.
That DNA tests don't go as far as the action urged by the report, which was leaked publicly this spring. A "DNA data bank for all troops would be the most foolproof method" for tackling paternity claims, it said. No one knows how many children have been fathered by peacekeepers over the decades in some of the world's most troubled places. About 125,000 peacekeepers are deployed in 16 locations, almost all in Africa or the Middle East. Sexual abuse and exploitation remains a problem, with little support available for victims. It's clear, however, that many of the children are in a desperate financial situation, said the report by Zeid Raad al-Hussein, now the UN's human rights chief and a former peacekeeper himself. (Read more UN peacekeepers stories.)