Nepalese soldiers working as peacekeepers for the United Nations mission to South Sudan have been accused of raping two teenage girls.
The allegations were received by the U.N. on April 13 and announced on Monday. The number of Nepalese peacekeepers involved in the assaults was not specified.
“Any act of sexual abuse is horrendous. One involving a child is especially heinous,” said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. No further details of the crimes have been released as of yet.
AFP notes that 14,800 troops from various participating nations have been deployed by the U.N. in South Sudan to protect civilians during its brutal civil war. 46 peacekeepers from Ghana were recalled in February following allegations that women living under their protection in South Sudan were exploited for “transactional sex.”
A report published in January accused the United Nations of allowing sexual harassment and assault in offices across the world, with a poor track record of acting against the perpetrators. U.N. peacekeepers were involved in many of the incidents detailed in the report.
Since nations participating in U.N. missions are held responsible for the behavior of their troops, the U.N. has asked Nepal to send a team to help investigate the rape allegations.
After visiting South Sudan last week the United Nations’ chief aide for peacekeeping operations, Bintou Keita, said she was “appalled by the violence this conflict has brought against women and girls,” including sexual violence. Keita recommended vigorous prosecution of sexual assault as an important part of the solution.