UN reports ‘troubling’ claims of sex abuse in CAR

United Nations reveales new ‘troubling’ allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and French troops in Central African Republic

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

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.

United Nations said on Thursday that new “extremely troubling” allegations emerged of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and French troops in the Central African Republic.

A UN team received reports that troops from the Sangaris mission (the French mission) forced girls to engage in bestiality in return for a small amount of money and notified French authorities about the issue.

"We've received reports of cases of bestiality involving French troops but we have not confirmed them at this point," a UN official said.

"The exact number and nature of these extremely troubling allegations are still being determined," a UN statement added.

According to the statament, troops from Burundi and Gabon serving in the UN mission will stay confined to their wards during the investigation of the allegations against them.

"The team has identified the contingents in question as those provided by Burundi and Gabon," the statement said.

The UN statement said that a senior UN official met with Burundi's Ambassador Albert Shingiro and will meet soon with representatives of Gabon.

"Allegations are allegations," Shingiro said.

"We have to wait for investigation by a national team from next week. Our national policy on sexual abuse is zero tolerance," he added.

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 and charged to interview victims and gather information on the latest wave of allegations hitting the MINUSCA force.

In August, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sacked the UN mission chief in the Central African Republic over the developing allegations as further accusations have continued to emerge.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon holds a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at the Swedish government headquarters in the Rosenbad building in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 30, 2016. (Reuters)

The non-governmental organisation AIDS-Free World that has been observing cases of peacekeeper sex abuse, described the latest claims as "shocking."

According to a statement by AIDS-Free World, three girls told a UN rights officer that they were tied up and undressed by a Sangaris military commander inside a camp and forced to have sex with a dog in 2014. Each girl was then given a small amount of money.

The UN reported two new cases of sexual abuse by Burundian and Moroccan troops on Monday, including one that involved a 14-year-old girl.

More than 25 cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by MINUSCA peacekeepers have emerged this year alone.

There have been 99 new allegations of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse against United Nations staff members in 2015, increasing from the 80 allegations in 2014, according to the new UN report.

The United Nations mission MINUSCA said last December that at least 785 people have been affected by 775 cases of violations and abuses within an 8 month period in 2014.

The UN Security Council will hear a report on the latest allegations during a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

The council adopted a resolution earlier this month that supported 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 as France sent its Sangaris intervention force to the country in December 2013.

The UN pledged to crack down on sex abuse allegations to avoid a repeat of past mistakes. MINUSCA's previous head, Babacar Gaye, resigned last August and some 800 Congolese peacekeepers were repatriated last month.

In December, an independent review panel accused the UN and its agencies of grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse and rape by international peacekeepers in the CAR in 2013 and 2014.

The Central African Republic launched a probe into the alleged sex crimes by French troops on May 7, with Justice Minister Aristide Sokambi saying “Legal action will be pursued. These are still very serious acts.”

TRTWorld and agencies