AFRICANGLOBE – United Nations peacekeepers have been accused of sexually abusing street children in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui and an investigation has been launched by the country that contributed the troops, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
The United Nations did not identify which country the troops were from. There are 10,000 UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, where violence erupted in 2013 after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, sparking reprisal attacks from Christian militia.
“If the allegations are substantiated, this would constitute a grave violation of UN principles and of the code of conduct of peacekeepers,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
The “member-state will be requested to take swift and appropriate punitive action”, he added.
Dujarric said the UN mission was made aware of the abuse allegations on 19 June and the troop-contributing country was notified on 20 June. He did not say how many children were alleged to have been abused.
“Medical care and assistance is now being provided to the alleged victims,” Dujarric told reporters in New York. “What we know is that the crimes could go back as far as 2014 and then most recently occurred this year.”
“If the allegations are substantiated this would constitute a grave violation of UN principles and the code of conduct for UN peacekeepers. The member state would be requested to take swift and appropriate punitive action,” he said.
Punishment for crimes committed by UN peacekeepers is the responsibility of the country they come from.
Dujarric said the country that contributed the troops involved had started an investigation and was expected to report back to the United Nations “as quickly as possible”.
Earlier this month the UN mission in Central African Republic, known as Minusca, said it was investigating a separate allegation that a peacekeeper had sexually abused a girl in the country’s east.
The allegations against UN peacekeepers come after an internal UN report detailed accusations of sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers from France between December 2013 and June 2014 in Bangui.
Those soldiers were not UN peacekeepers as the UN did not take over the African Union operation until September 2014. But it has been criticized for its slow handling of those allegations.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps to head an external independent review into how the world body handled allegations of sexual abuse of children by French soldiers.
The UN has been badly shaken by accusations that it failed to respond quickly to the claims which were made in a report by UN rights investigators that was leaked in April.
Since the allegations first reach the UN a year ago, the only person punished has been the UN staff member who told French authorities, Anders Kompass.