An independent NGO has released "strictly confidential" reports revealing further details of claims of sex crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) where French UN peacekeepers are accused of sexually abusing young boys in exchange for food.
UN officials are accused of failing to follow up on the reports of abuse and leaving them to linger for several months, which along with shocking and descriptive accounts of the abuse in the same reports has caused public consternation.
Meanwhile UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein in a statement Saturday urged several countries to step up efforts to investigate the allegations which not only include child sex offenses but also the killing of civilians, summary executions, abductions and sexual exploitation of women.
Al Hussein did not name any country in specific he wishes to take action, and announced he is sending a team to the Central African Republic to consider further measures to address human rights violations.
The whereabouts of the accused French soldiers is unknown.
Two former UN staffers are running the NGO that released the report. They also called for an independent investigation on Friday. The French soldiers were originally sent to the country to help restore peace amid sectarian tension between Muslims and Christians.
Further NGO reports indicate that UN officials did not put much effort in assisting the French inquiry into the crimes, which instead investigated the human rights staffer who told the French authorities in the first place.
Boys as young as eight or nine first approached the soldiers because they were hungry, and didn’t fully understand the acts demanded of them in exchange for food.
An 11-year-old said he had gone "looking for empty wrappings to play with" when a French soldier gave him food and a little money in exchange for oral sex. Another boy, 9, "had been severely beaten by his mother when he told her what had happened."
Detailed reports over the specifics of the sex crimes including the children’s allegations were not delivered to top officials at the UN headquarters in New York for months.
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told reporters on Friday he first heard about the allegations this spring, he said, "Some reporting lines maybe didn't function."
"The grim reality is that those with experience within the U.N. system are unlikely to be surprised," its statement released by The NGO that on Friday released internal UN documents said. "They know that this is not an unusual case; it is simply one that has come, partially, to light."