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    UN Failed to Protect CAR Children From Sexual Abuse by French Peacekeepers

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    An independent panel report strongly criticized the United Nations for its failure to respond to allegations concerning the sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic by French peacekeepers.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he had received and would take action on the Report of the External Independent Review of the United Nations Response to Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Central African Republic, released the same day.

    An independent, UN-appointed, three-member panel led by a Canadian judge has found “gross institutional failure” at the United Nations in responding to allegations of UN peacekeepers abusing children.

    “Given the gravity of these findings, I will act quickly to determine what action might be necessary,” Ban said. “I express my profound regret that these children were betrayed by the very people sent to protect them.”

    The report found three UN officials abusing their authority, two of whom have subsequently left the organization.

    A UN internal report leaked this spring revealed that French troops deployed in the CAR as part of a 2013 peacekeeping mission subjected children to sexual abuse in exchange for food and money.

    The number of “blue helmets” alleged to be involved in the crimes rose to 17 by September.

    “Though the soldiers who committed the abuses were not under United Nations command, the report shows that the United Nations, which uncovered the abuse, did not subsequently handle the case with the speed, care or sensitivity required,” Ban stated.

    In August, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded the resignation of the head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) after Amnesty International implicated MINUSCA soldiers in the rape of a 12-year-old girl and the murder of a teenager and his father.

    That same month, three young women were raped by three members of a MINUSCA military contingent.

    Over 10,000 UN peacekeepers are in the CAR, tasked with stopping violence between Muslim and Christian militant groups that erupted in late 2012.

    UN peacekeeping forces continue to rape civilians worldwide, despite efforts by leaders of the world body to end the abuse, Amnesty International announced in August.

    Amnesty International said a recent study revealed that troops in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti had engaged in “transactional sex” with at least 229 women in exchange for food and medication.

    The study reported that “between 2008 and 2013, nearly 500 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made against UN peacekeeping personnel, one-third of which involved minors.”

    Almost none of those suspected of crimes of sexual violence are brought to justice, according to the study.

    The study added that because of contested rules regarding peacekeeper immunity, the onus is generally on the troop-contributing country to undertake prosecutions, and they rarely, if ever, do.

    France’s armed forces were sharply criticized this summer after two soldiers were suspended over accusations that they sexually abused children as young as five while on a peacekeeping mission in the west African country of Burkina Faso.

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    Tags:
    sexual abuse, failure, peacekeepers, child abuse, United Nations, Central African Republic
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