The United Nations (UN) has identified 25 peacekeepers from Burundi and 16 from Gabon accused of sexual abuse and exploitation in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2014 and 2015, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric disclosed on Monday.
“Responsibility for further investigations lies with Burundi and Gabon,” said Dujarric, adding that the United Nations had asked those states to interview the identified troops, who all left Central African Republic before the allegations surfaced.
The current development came as a result of an internal UN inquiry. The issue of sexual abuse in the CAR has been top of the UN’s agenda, it led to the appointment of Jane Holl Lute, “to improve the UN response to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
In a 2015 report, 22 cases of sexual abuse were committed in the Central African Republic by peacekeepers. A figure which represents a third of sexual abuse cases (69) committed previously by the 16 UN missions worldwide.
Embarrassed by these accusations, the UN, decided to take action against the soldiers’ found guilty of the abuses. On January 21, a Human Rights Watch research team had requested medical and psychosocial care be provided to the victims.
Most of the time these allegations of abuse concern minors who are an “easy prey” for soldiers. More often than not, the means of influence or exchange is either the food, which is truly a luxury in conflict zones, or the money to buy other goods.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the Central African Republic, also head of the Munisca, Perfect Onanga-Anyanga, had sent a message of “zero tolerance” towards any UN soldier who is involved or whose is found culpable in a case of sexual abuse.
He is quoted to have said, “Sexual abuse is a serious violation of UN rules and a violation of human rights, a double crime that affects women and vulnerable children.”
About 10,000 men up the MINUSCA are tasked with helping the government restore social peace with the country just recently coming out of years of inter-communal violence that killed thousands and resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands others.