The United Nations’ troubled peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic has been hit with new allegations of rape by peacekeepers, including one underage victim, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Last week the head of the Central African Republic (CAR) mission, known as MINUSCA, was sacked after a series of allegations of sexual abuse and excessive use of force by peacekeepers. MINUSCA chief Babacar Gaye was replaced by Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, who was named the mission’s acting chief.
“A new series of disturbing allegations of misconduct have recently come to light,” U.N. spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told reporters.
“The events allegedly took place in recent weeks,” she said. “These new allegations concern a report that three young females were raped by three members of a MINUSCA military contingent.”
She said one of the women was a minor and the incident occurred in Bambari, where troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are deployed.
The allegations were reported to MINUSCA’s human rights division on Aug. 12 by the families of the three women, Maestracci said.
U.N. sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Reuters that the accused troops were from DRC. The sources said the United Nations in New York was made aware of the allegations on Aug. 17 and the Congolese authorities the same day.
“The troop contributing country has been asked to indicate within 10 days if it intends to investigate the allegations itself,” Maestracci said. “Should the member state decline to investigate or fail to respond the United Nations would rapidly conduct its own investigation.”
MINUSCA has been asked to preserve all evidence.
Maestracci said that since its establishment in April 2014, MINUSCA has received 61 allegations of possible misconduct. That includes 13 cases of possible sexual exploitation and abuse.
She said that so far two U.N. police officers and four soldiers have been repatriated on disciplinary grounds, which is in addition to 20 soldiers who were sent home “on administrative grounds” for suspected excessive use of force pending the conclusion of an investigation.Allegations of misconduct by U.N. troops are not new. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to crack down on abuse and misconduct by peacekeepers and is pushing to ensure greater transparency and accountability by governments of those found guilty of such behavior.