UN troops in Central African Republic face fresh abuse claims

UN in CAR

The United Nations said on Friday it had allegations that peacekeepers from Georgia, France and another unnamed European country sexually abused children while deployed in the Central African Republic.

The alleged crimes, including rapes, mostly committed in 2014, came to light only in recent weeks and the national authorities concerned, as well as the European Union, have been informed and are investigating, it said.

The latest revelations come after a joint UN team in the CAR interviewed six young boys and girls, from the M’Poko camp for the displaced in the capital Bangui, who said they had been sexually exploited or abused by foreign troops.

Four girls, aged between 14 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse, said their abusers were attached to the European Union operation (EUFOR/CAR). Two of the girls alleged rape while the other two said they were paid to have sexual relations with the soldiers.

Two other children, a girl and a boy, who were aged seven and nine at the time of the abuse, accused the French soldiers of abuse. According to the UN, the girl said she “had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies”.

Both children said that many other minors were abused in repeated incidents involving French soldiers.

There have been 14 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic since the United Nations established a force there in April 2014.

Similar allegations also were made against French peacekeepers who arrived in the country a year before the U.N. force.

Peacekeepers’ involvement in the Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest nations, stems from political violence that began in 2013.

France and African nations sent peacekeepers after a coalition of mostly Muslim rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March 2013. Christian and Muslim militias battled for control before a tentative political transition began.

The United Nations response to those reports was criticized by an independent panel appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which said in a report last month that officials had “turned a blind eye to the criminal actions of individual troops” and had failed to protect or aid child victims of sexual abuse.

Source: Agencies

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