UN peacekeepers linked to rape in Africa

  • 05/02/2016
UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic (Reuters)
UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic (Reuters)

The UN peacekeeping mission for Central African Republic says it has identified seven new cases of sexual abuse by its troops including women and girls Human Rights Watch (HRW) says were raped or gang raped.

The latest cases, which involved at least five children, come on top of more than 20 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers in the country last year.

Troops from France and Georgia involved in restoring order to the turbulent former French colony since a 2013 spike in inter-communal violence are also accused of sexually abusing children.

"(I) will not rest until these heinous acts are uncovered, perpetrators are punished, and incidents cease," said MINUSCA head Parfait Onanga-Anyanga during a visit to Bambari in the country's centre, where the latest alleged abuses took place.

The mission's previous head, Babacar Gaye, resigned amid sexual abuse allegations by peacekeepers last August.

Human Rights Watch accuses soldiers from Congo Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo of raping or sexually exploiting eight women and girls between October and December 2015 near Bambari airport.

The victims were among the nearly 1 million Central African Republicans displaced during three years of violence between Christian and Muslim militias and were at the time living in a nearby temporary camp, HRW added.

A 14-year-old girl said that last November two armed peacekeepers dragged her into a patch of tall grass where one restrained her arms as the other raped her.

A woman said that three soldiers at the Republic of Congo base gang raped her when she visited in search of food or money.

"They were armed. They said if I resisted they would kill me. They took me one by one," she told Human Rights Watch.

MINUSCA, which has conducted its own initial probe into the incidents, said it has confined 120 soldiers from the Republic of Congo to barracks and will repatriate them once an investigation is complete.