Mauritania vows no abuse by soldiers in C. African Republic

AP News
Posted: Feb 21, 2016 11:36 AM
Mauritania vows no abuse by soldiers in C. African Republic

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Mauritania's defense minister vowed on Sunday that his country's peacekeepers will never be implicated in the type of sex abuse allegations that have rocked Central African Republic's U.N. mission in recent months.

Diallo Mamadou Bathia made his remarks during a ceremony Sunday before the deployment of 225 Mauritanian soldiers to Central African Republic, where thousands have been killed in sectarian fighting since 2013. Mauritania already sent 225 soldiers to the country two weeks ago and 300 more are scheduled to deploy next month, bringing the country's contribution to the mission to 750 troops.

Since allegations first became public last April, peacekeepers with the U.N. mission have been repeatedly accused of rape and other forms of sexual abuse. In January, the U.N. said there likely were 22 confirmed allegations, and still more allegations have been reported this month. The U.N. has been unable to explain why the allegations in Central African Republic have been so widespread.

The U.N. has started repatriations over the abuse claims. Last week, a spokesman said the repatriation of a Congolese battalion in Bambari, where a number of cases have been reported, would start on Feb. 25, and that Mauritanians would serve as replacements.

At Sunday's deployment ceremony, Bathia promised that Mauritanian troops would be positive ambassadors for the country and would not violate any laws.

"Our military will never resort to these reprehensible practices because they are contrary to our values and traditions," he said.