09:46 GMT01 December 2020
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    Claims that United Nations peacekeeping troops have been sexually abusing young girls in Central African Republic (CAR) continue to emerge - bringing the number of cases brought against soldiers to 26.

    The UN has asked three countries to investigate claims that four young girls were abused by soldiers serving in the Minusca mission. The victims have been interviewed by investigators from children's charity, Unicef.

    The troops are accused of rape, sexual exploitation and transactional sex with young girls living in a camp in Bangui, paying them as little as 50 cents for sex.

    Responding to the fresh allegations, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, head of the UN Minusca mission has promised tough action against the alleged perpetrators.

    "Where there is doubt we will take the side of the victims […] The sanctions will be strong when we have established who is responsible," he said.

    However, this is not the first time UN peacekeepers have been accused of paying for sex with youngsters living in a camp for displaced people in CAR. Claims French troops sexually abused young children in exchange for food emerged in 2014.

    The alleged perpetrators, predominantly from the French Sangaris Force, were working as peacekeepers under the authorization of the Security Council — but not under UN command.

    Internally displaced children in Bangui, Central African Republic
    © Flickr / United Nations
    Internally displaced children in Bangui, Central African Republic

    In May and June 2014, ten boys from the M'Poko Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Bangui reported that they had been sexually abused — or witnessed other children being abused.

    They told a UN human rights officer that it was widely known that they could approach some members of the Sangaris Forces for food or money — but would have to perform sex acts in exchange for it.

    The UN report into the abuse states that in some cases, soldiers allegedly coordinated bringing children onto the base and would call out to the boys for them to approach.

    The report, Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, has condemned the UN for failing to respond to the allegations, citing its handling of it as "seriously flawed" and not taking correct action when the alleged abuse of the boys emerged.

    "When peacekeepers exploit the vulnerability of the people they have been sent to protect, it is a fundamental betrayal of trust," the independent report stated.

    "When the international community fails to care for the victims or to hold the perpetrators to account, that betrayal is compounded."

    UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has warned that he will sack the entire peacekeeping unit in CAR if the countries involved fail to prosecute the soldiers accused of sex abuse. Ban Ki-moon has already fired the head of the 10,000 Minusca force, following the scandal.

    MINUSCA Police Commissioner on Foot Patrol in Bangui
    MINUSCA Police Commissioner on Foot Patrol in Bangui

    Sources say the new sex abuse allegations in CAR involve soldiers from Gabon, Egypt and Morocco.


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    sex assault, peacekeepers, rape, child abuse, abuse, troops, peacekeeping mission, United Nations, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Ban Ki-moon, Africa, Central African Republic
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