"The United Nations has spent half a billion dollars on contracts with a Russian aviation company since discovering one of its helicopter crews in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drugged and raped a teenage girl in a sexual attack...
Internal UN documents, marked 'strictly confidential' and leaked to the Guardian, reveal how the UN's internal complaints unit uncovered evidence the woman was abused with lit cigarettes and photographed lying on the ground. The UN concluded the shocking attack in 2010 was perpetrated by the manager in charge of UTair's base in Kalemie, eastern DRC.
The main investigative report, from March 2011, warned of a possible 'culture of sexual exploitation and abuse' at UTair. Copies of that report were circulated among top officials at the UN, including, in New York, the office of the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
After what is described as collective 'disgust' in the top echelons of the UN over the case, officials considered terminating UTair's contract. Instead, the company was permitted to continue doing business with the UN on the condition it introduce a new training regime overseen by a monitor. UTair remains the largest provider of air transportation to the UN...
Ban... will now be forced to explain how a company implicated in sexual exploitation managed to expand its contracts with the UN.
'It wasn't just one or two bad apples,' said a senior UN official familiar with the report and its fallout. 'It was clear the problems of sexual exploitation were wider.'
Since the damning report into UTair was completed four years ago, the company has been granted new contracts, or renewed existing deals, for helicopter support at UN missions in Lebanon, Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia and Mali.
In total, the company... has been granted contracts worth $543.3m for services provided in 11 countries since the UN became aware it had a problem with sexual exploitation..."