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UN probes new alleged sex abuse by peacekeepers in CAR

Updated: 2016-01-06 09:05


UNITED NATIONS - New allegations of sexual abuse were reported against UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic(CAR), and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is investigating new allegations concerning both sexual exploitation and abuse and other misconduct by UN Peacekeepers in Bangui, a UN spokesman told reporters here Tuesday.

The head of the UN Mission, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, and the force commander on Tuesday met with members of MINUSCA Military and the Police in the CAR's capital, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

Onanga-Anyanga, also the UN special representative for the CAR, reiterated the mission's unwavering commitment to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Zero Tolerance policy and reminded them that there will be no complacency for perpetrators or accomplices of such crimes which traumatize the life of vulnerable people and which also tarnish the Peacekeepers identity, the honour of their country and the UN flag, Dujarric said.

He also announced on-going discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to carry out joint actions as part of the reinforcement of the UN Mission's ability to combat Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Dujarric said.

"Other upcoming measures include the establishment of a Police-Force joint brigade to identify sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrators and deter the occurrence of new cases."

Meanwhile, Onanga-Anyanga also underlined the need to conduct patrols in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in close collaboration with the CAR's internal security forces. He also renewed his commitment to protect whistle-blowers.

"The Mission continues to investigate each and every allegation of misconduct," Dujarric said. "A fact finding mission is currently underway in this regard."

"The National Authorities have been informed in Bangui and the Troop Contributing Countries in question have been informed officially in New York," the spokesman said, but he did not disclose which country's soldiers were involved in the new allegations.

Onanga-Anyanga called on them to conduct their own national investigative processes immediately. The UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) will also be involved as appropriate.

"The entire UN family is collaborating in addressing sexual exploitation and abuse in the broader context of upholding highest standard of conduct and discipline within the organization," Dujarric said.

Over the past week, staff members from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Bangui have undertaken four visits to meet with four alleged victims.

UNICEF is working with a local partner to help the girls receive medical care, and is assessing their psychosocial needs. The girls were also provided with clothes, shoes and hygiene kits.

The Tuesday meeting in Bangui came after Ban's pledge last month to urgently review recommendations of an independent panel that found that the UN did not act with the "speed, care or sensitivity required" when uncovering information about crimes committed against children by soldiers who were not under UN command.

In the spring of 2014, allegations came to light that international troops serving as peacekeepers had sexually abused a number of young children in exchange for food or money. The alleged perpetrators were largely from a French military force known as Sangaris, which was operating under authorization of the Security Council but not under UN command.

The nearly 11,000-strong MINUSCA was set up in 2014 after fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups erupted in early 2013, killing thousands of people and driving hundreds of thousands more from their homes. The mission played a major role in providing security last month for the first round of presidential and legislative elections.

The new allegations came after what the United Nations has confirmed to be 63 allegations of misconduct at the UN Mission since it began operations last year, with the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, reporting after a four-day visit to CAR in September that out of these 63 allegations, "15 relate to possible sexual exploitation and abuse. ... Most of those cases are under investigation."

The Central Africa Republic has been rocked by violence since a mainly Muslim rebellion in 2013. MINUSCA was set up in 2014 to help bring peace in the country after a breakdown of governmental authority and vicious intercommunal fighting.

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