External review to probe how U.N. handled abuse charges in Africa


United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon announced on Wednesday that he would set up an external independent review of how the world body handled allegations of sexual abuse of young children in the Central African Republic by French and African soldiers.

A 6-page internal U.N. report obtained by Reuters detailed alleged abuse by troops from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea between December 2013 and June 2014 at a centre for displaced people in the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui.

The United Nations has come under fire because of its slow response after preparing an initial 2014 report on the allegations. It is currently conducting an internal investigation of its handling of the allegations.
“The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers in the CAR, as well as allegations of how this was handled by the various parts of the U.N. system involved,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
“His intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them.”

He said the review, which would be established in the coming days, would also look at a “range of systemic issues related to how the U.N. responds to serious information of this kind.”

France intervened in Central African Republic, a former French colony, some 19 months ago to help an African Union peacekeeping force stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels.

The United Nations took over the African peacekeeping force in September and France started withdrawing some of it 2,000 troops this year.