UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations’ “gross institutional failure” to act on allegations that French and other peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic led to even more assaults, according to a new report released Thursday.

One young boy who initially reported an attack on his friends more than a year ago now says he has been raped, too.

The independent panel found that the accounts by children as young as 9 of trading oral sex and other acts in exchange for food in the middle of a war zone in early 2014 were “passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple U.N. offices, with no one willing to take responsibility.”

Among those said to have looked the other way were the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, as well as human rights staffers.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, expressed “profound regret that these children were betrayed by the very people sent to protect them” and said he accepted the panel’s broad findings.

The panel, led by Canadian judge Marie Deschamps, found that U.N. staffers failed or hesitated to pass the children’s allegations to more senior officials, sometimes because of political concerns with France involved; showed “unconscionable delays” in protecting and supporting the children; failed to further investigate the allegations; failed to properly vet peacekeepers for past abuses; and, overall, appeared more concerned with whether one U.N. staffer had improperly alerted French authorities.

“The welfare of the victims and the accountability of the perpetrators appeared to be an afterthought, if considered at all,” the report says.

As of now, more than a year and a half after U.N. staffers first heard the children’s allegations of sexual abuse, no one has been arrested. Four French soldiers were questioned last week and released without charge, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The new report lays bare one of the most persistent and embarrassing problems for the U.N. and its member countries as tens of thousands of peacekeepers serve in some of the world’s most volatile areas: Some vulnerable people are raped by their protectors, and often no one is punished. Many victims are children.

The children in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, reported the abuses in the middle of deadly chaos. The country had been ripped apart by violence between Christians and Muslims, and thousands of frightened people had sought shelter in squalid camps at the airport. French and other peacekeepers were trying to establish security.

The children told U.N. staffers that they had been hungry and did what the peacekeepers asked in return for food.

Almost a year passed before such allegations by a half-dozen children were made public in media reports this past April and May, leading Ban to order the independent investigation.