New sexual abuse allegations have surfaced against UN peacekeepers in Central Africa Republic (CAR) as officials investigate previous claims.
“The blue beret or the bleu helmet you wear represents hope for the vulnerable population of the CAR,” declared Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga.
There are now 26 sex abuse allegations against the peacekeepers.
The UN press release or news story did not relate the new details or ages of the victims.
“The entire UN family is collaborating in addressing [sexual exploitation and abuse] in the broader context of upholding highest standard of conduct and discipline within the organization,” stated the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA). “Over the past week, UNICEF staff (UN Children’s Fund) from the office in Bangui have undertaken four visits to meet with four alleged minors victims. UNICEF is working with a local partner to help the girls receive medical care, and is assessing their psychosocial needs. The girls were also provided with clothes, shoes and hygiene kits.”
The UN and international troops have faced sex abuse and rape charges since the spring of 2014, when soldiers allegedly abused the children “in exchange for food or money.” The majority of the accused belong to the “French military force known as Sangaris, which was operating under authorization of the Security Council but not under UN command.”
The Security Council held a closed door meeting on Tuesday about the new allegations.
“We are really sick and tired of this coming back each time,” said New Zealand’s Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen. “There are calls for the council to be given specific information about what is going on in response to these allegations.”
The country in charge of the peacekeeping mission must prosecute the accusers. At least fourteen soldiers are in France to face prosecution.
The second interview was conducted on 20 May with a 9-year-old boy. The child reported that some time before 5 December 2013, a French soldier working at the check point called him, gave him an individual combat food ration and showed him a pornographic video on his cell phone. The child stated that the soldier then opened his trousers, showing him his erect penis, and asked him to suck his “bangala” (penis).
The investigation discovered the UN did as little as possible to stop the abuse:
UN officials failed to take any steps to investigate the allegations beyond the initial interviews, to report on the Allegations with the urgency that the abuses merited, or to follow up with the French authorities to address the violations. Instead, the approach of UN officials was to assume that because the alleged perpetrators were Sangaris soldiers not under UN command, the UN had a limited obligation to respond to the Allegations, and that because the Allegations were politically sensitive, staff should draw as little attention to them as possible.
Instead, the UN decided to investigate the person who exposed the abuse.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon fired the mission chief in August, more than a year after the abuse claims came to international attention. He told Babacar Gaye of Senegal to resign because “enough is enough.”
“I cannot put into words how anguished and angered and ashamed I am by recurrent reports over the years of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN forces,” he announced. “When the United Nations deploys peacekeepers, we do so to protect the world’s most vulnerable people in the world’s most desperate places. I will not tolerate any action by people who replace trust with fear.”