16:16 GMT05 December 2020
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    Soldiers from a United Nations peace-keeping force and a European mission have been accused of sexually assaulting minors as young as seven-years-old in the Central African Republic. Some children alleged their attackers exchanged food for sex.

    A UN probe has revealed reports accusing UN peacekeepers, members of a European mission, and troops in France’s Sangaris operation of sexually abusing children.

    Although there is mounting evidence suggesting UN peace keepers have sexually assaulted minors, this latest probe unearthed allegations against European Union troops (EUFOR).

    Two girls said they were raped by EUFOR troops while two others say they were paid to have sexual relations with EUFOR soldiers.

    The four children were aged between 14 and 16 at the time of the alleged attacks. Three of them said they believed their attackers were from Georgia.

    Unprecedented in such cases, the UN released the nationalities of the accused peace keepers. They hail from Bangladesh, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

    UN investigators also interviewed two children who said they were sexually abused by soldiers in France’s Sangaris unit.

    "The girl said she had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies," the interviewees’ statement read. “Both she and the nine-year-old boy said that other children were abused in a similar fashion in repeated incidents involving several French soldiers."

    These six cases of abuse allegedly took place at a sprawling camp for displaced people at M'Poko, near Bangui's airport.

    EUFOR said it takes the cases “very seriously.” UN rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said it is "crucial that these cases are thoroughly and urgently investigated."

    Georgia's defense ministry said it would "do everything possible to ensure that those individuals committing such crimes are held responsible."


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    Refugees, sexual assault, peacekeepers, children, UN, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, Sangaris, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Niger, Bangladesh, France
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