‘Troubling’ claims of sex abuse by French and UN troops in the Central African Republic

Central Africa

Central Africa

United Nations, United States, March 31, 2016 (AFP) – New “extremely troubling” allegations have emerged of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and French troops in the Central African Republic, the United Nations said Wednesday. French authorities have been notified after a UN team received accounts that troops from the Sangaris mission forced girls to engage in bestiality in return for a small amount of money. “We’ve received reports of cases of bestiality involving French troops but we have not confirmed them at this point,” a UN official told AFP.

A UN statement added: “The exact number and nature of these extremely troubling allegations are still being determined.” Troops from Burundi and Gabon serving in the UN mission will remain confined to their barracks during the investigation of the claims against them, said the statement. The abuse allegedly took place between 2013 and 2015 in the Kemo prefecture of the Central African Republic. A UN team was sent to the area this week to interview victims and gather information on the latest wave of allegations hitting the MINUSCA force.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August fired the mission chief in Central African Republic over the mounting allegations, but new cases have continued to emerge. AIDS-Free World, a non-governmental organization that has been monitoring cases of peacekeeper sex abuse, called the latest allegations “shocking.” Three girls told a UN rights officer that in 2014 they were tied up and undressed by a Sangaris (the French mission) military commander inside a camp and forced to have sex with a dog, AIDS-Free World said in a press release.

Each girl was then given a small amount of money. On Monday, the United Nations reported two new cases of sexual abuse by Burundian and Moroccan troops, including one that involved a 14-year-old girl. More than 25 cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by MINUSCA peacekeepers have come to light this year alone. The UN Security Council is due to hear a report on the latest allegations during a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

The council adopted a resolution earlier this month that backed a new UN policy of sending entire contingents back home if there is a pattern of sex abuse by the troops or police. A total of 122 countries contribute 125,000 troops and police to the UN’s peacekeeping missions worldwide. The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic began in September 2014 while France sent its Sangaris intervention force to the country in December 2013.

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