UN probing sex abuse allegations in Central African Republic

AP News
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Posted: Mar 28, 2016 3:24 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic is investigating the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by peacekeepers from Burundi in early March and the sexual exploitation of a woman by a member of the Moroccan military contingent in February, the United Nations said Monday.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said these new allegations follow recently reported allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. and non-U.N. forces as well as civilians in Kemo prefecture, east of the capital Bangui, in 2014 and 2015.

A U.N. team sent to the Kemo area is currently gathering information about those allegations, he said.

The United Nations has been in the spotlight for months over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuses by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Central African Republic and Congo.

The U.N. said 25 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation were registered with the U.N. mission in Central African Republic in January and February, most from previous years. This compares with a total of six allegations in the 15 other U.N. peacekeeping missions, in the first two months of this year, the U.N. peacekeeping department said.

A U.N. report earlier this month said there were 69 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers in 2015 — 22 of them in CAR.

Dujarric said the alleged rape of the 14-year-old girl by peacekeepers from Burundi was reported to the U.N. mission last week by the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. He said the victim has been given medical and psycho-social assistance.

The U.N. mission also received a report that an unidentified Moroccan peacekeeper was allegedly engaged in "an exploitative sexual relationship" with a local woman in the southeastern city of Bangassou in February, he said.

Authorities in Burundi and Morocco have been informed and asked whether they will send investigators and Morocco replied that it would, Dujarric said.

In early March, the U.N. Security Council approved its first-ever resolution tackling the escalating problem of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers who act as predators instead of protectors of vulnerable civilians in some of the world's most volatile areas.