The United Nations said on Monday it is investigating new rape allegations in Central African Republic where UN peacekeepers have been hit with numerous charges of sexual abuse over the past year.
"A team from the Republic of Congo arrived in the country to investigate recent allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against their troops,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said during a press conference on Monday.
Earlier in February, UN peacekeeping mission for United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said it has identified seven new cases of sexual abuse by its troops, including women and girls Human Rights Watch (HRW) says were raped or gang raped.
Last month UN Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury said there were 22 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in 2015 in the UN mission that was previously led by Babacar Gaye who resigned in last August after a series of sexual and other misconduct allegations.
Banbury also publicly unveiled the countries whose troops and police in UN missions had been accused of sexual abuse and exploitation naming Congo, Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Niger and Senegal.
Haq stated that the repatriation of a Congolese battalion in Bambari where a number of cases have been reported will start on Feb. 25 adding that some 208 replacement troops from Mauritania have already arrived.
The UN expects a company of 120 soldiers who are currently confined to barracks in Berberati as a result of the accusations to be sent home before the end of February when the investigation is completed, he said.
In December, an independent review panel accused the UN and its agencies of grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse in 2013 and 2014 by international peacekeepers in Central African Republic, calling its approach to the charges "seriously flawed" and a "gross institutional failure."
The United Nations has been unable to explain why so many rapes and other sexual abuse by peacekeepers have been alleged in Central African Republic, which has been gripped by deadly clashes between Seleka and Anti-Balaka militias since late 2013.
Thousands of peacekeepers from the UN, African Union (AU) and Europe have been deployed since then to help restore peace to the country.