Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic are under fire as multiple children have come out saying they were victims of rape an abuse. The scandal is rocking the peacekeeping organization and threatens to tarnish the reputation of the group worldwide, though it is not the first time they have been accused of sexual misconduct in third world nations.
Tales of abuse under foreign soldiers are becoming more commonplace in the African nation which has been under UN peacekeeping operations, code-named MINUSCA, since April of last year. The multinational force involves local bordering countries as well as French troops.
Human Rights Watch reports that the sexual abuse cases, which lasted from October to December of last year, involved at least 8 women of various ages. The perpetrators are said to have been UN troops originating from either the Democratic People’s Republic of Congo or the Republic of Congo which border the Central African Republic.
One victim, a 14 year old, told of her ordeal saying: “The men were dressed in their military uniforms and had their guns.
“I walked by and suddenly one of them grabbed me by my arms and the other one ripped off my clothes.
“They pulled me into the tall grass and one held my arms while the other one pinned down my legs and raped me.
“The soldier holding my arms tried to hold my mouth, but I was still able to scream. Because of that they had to run away before the second soldier could rape me.”
The attacks all occurred at or around a refugee camp for internally displaced people at Bambari.
According to another victim: “The conditions of life at the camp were precarious. I did not know what to do so I started having sex with the international forces. For this they gave me fish, chicken, jam and bread. Sometimes they give me between $1.60 to $3.30 USD.”
“Before, things were not like this,” the victim added. “I had to make decisions because life was so difficult so I chose to enter into these relations for survival.”
Congolese were not the only ones to be involved in abuse in the African nation. French soldiers stationed in the capital of Bangui were also reprimanded for sexual behaviour toward children, this time being young boys.
The boys reportedly abused or who had witnessed abuse, were between 9 and 13 and like the women in Bambari did so in exchange for food like cookies. French authorities kept the report quiet while the allegations were being investigated and still to this day have not said whether or not anyone was arrested in the case.
The United Nations has also been accused of being lenient with sexual abuse cases in other African nations like Mali and in operations in the Caribbean nation of Haiti in the past despite the clear guidelines set down for all peacekeepers that they must refrain from sexual relations with anyone while they are on duty.
The report comes at a time where underage migrants are also being abused sexually by older migrants in places like Germany and Sweden.