The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been hit by fresh sex abuse allegations forcing authorities to order an investigation. It has emerged that the UN troops sexually assaulted four minor girls in the landlocked African nation.
UN authorities have not revealed the number of troops involved in the allegations or their nationalities. But sources speaking to multiple media outlets have confirmed the troops were from Egypt, Morocco and Gabon. Under UN regulations, the onus for taking action against erring forces is on the troop-contributing nation. It is not clear when the alleged sexual assaults took place.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, told reporters in New York that the UN is "investigating new allegations concerning both sexual exploitation and abuse and other misconduct by UN peacekeepers in Bangui".
As many as four young girls have alleged they were sexually abused by international troops when the soldiers were stationed on a peacekeeping mission in the strife-torn country. The victims have received medical treatment and other assistance from the UN.
The UN chief's special representative Parfait Onanga Anyanga said in a statement: "The blue beret or the blue helmet you wear represents hope for the vulnerable population of the CAR."
'We're really sick'
During a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on 5 January the issue — which is the latest in the string of accusations troubling UN forces — was discussed. Following the discussions, New Zealand's Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen told reporters: "We are really sick and tired of this coming back each time. There are calls for the council to be given specific information about what is going on in response to these allegations."
The international body has been reeling under sex abuse accusations with 26 cases of troop misconduct, including the latest ones, being documented. Not all the victims were minors.
An internal review at the UN in July 2014 found that the French soldiers accused of sexually assaulting children were not serving under the UN command at that time. The abuse is thought to have taken place between December 2013 and June 2014.
John Budd, spokesperson for Unicef, said: "In the course of our investigation, additional allegations of sexual abuse were brought to the attention of Unicef. We are trying to verify them." Calls have been growing for appropriate action against troops, who were accused of misconduct, and authorities, who were negligent in taking necessary action.