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Foreign Troops in CAR Accused of Sex Abuse

Published on Jan 30 2016 // Around Africa, Featured, News

1The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday he is “extremely alarmed’ about the allegations that continue to surface in the Central African Republic about the sexual exploitation and abuse of minors by members of foreign military forces.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement most of the alleged crimes took place in 2014, “but only came to light in recent weeks. ”

A joint U.N. team in the CAR recently interviewed four girls who said they had been sexually assaulted and exploited by foreign soldiers.

Victims speak

Two said they were raped by soldiers with the European Union operation, or EUFOR, while two other girls said they were paid to have sex with other EUFOR soldiers. The nationalities of the soldiers were not clear, but three of the four girls believed their abusers were members of the Georgian EUFOR contingent.

At the time of the abuse, the girls were between the ages of 14 and 16.

The U.N. human rights staff also interviewed a young girl and a young boy abused in 2014 when the girl was seven and the boy was nine. The girl said she performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and some cookies. The two children told the U.N. staff other children were similarly abused by French soldiers.

All six cases involved non-U.N. foreign military forces, the statement said.

High Commissioner Zeid said he has notified the European, Georgian and French authorities about the cases. He said he was “heartened” by their prompt responses and that they have already launched investigations.

Sexual abuse allegations have been a recurring problem for the U.N. mission in CAR. Earlier this month, allegations of sexual abuse of minors by U.N. peacekeepers emerged. At that time, those allegations brought the number of sexual abuse cases involving peacekeepers and international troops in CAR to 26.

Last year, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon fired the head of the 12,000 Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) force over the mounting number of cases.

An independent panel last month described the U.N.’s delayed reaction to investigating and prosecuting its peacekeepers as a “gross institutional failure.”

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