The United Nations is sending a strong signal that the days of silence on behaviour related to sexual exploitation and abuse by its troops are over, according to the UN envoy in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Parfait Onanga-Anyanga was appointed head of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) last August after his predecessor resigned amid allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against peacekeepers under his command.
In 2015, 22 of the 69 cases against peacekeepers serving under the UN flag took place in the CAR, and fresh allegations have surfaced in 2016. While the world body is taking new measures to prevent these crimes, including through a recent Security Council resolution, Onanga-Anyanga told the UN News Centre that “this is appalling,” and it is unacceptable “that anyone working under the blue flag could be seen not as a protector but as a predator.”
Meanwhile, on March 4, the United Nations welcomed the final results of the second round of the presidential elections in the CAR, congratulating President-elect Faustin-Archange Touadéra.
“The election of this new President gives new hope that maybe everything the United Nations has done so far is going in the right direction,” Onanga-Anyanga said, noting that the organisation’s most significant challenge in the country is to protect civilian populations and ensure an inclusive political process can pave the way towards lasting stability.
“We need to ensure that anything that we do will be helping this country to leapfrog from the chaos and horrors of the past to a new situation whereby there will be more unity, more reconciliation and more eagerness from all parts to build a better future for the Central Africans,” he said.
More than three years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in the CAR amid continuing clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian. The UN recently reported an upsurge in violence, in particular last September and October, committed by armed elements.
Asked what keeps him going every day to achieve MINUSCA’s mandate, Onanga-Anyanga said it is the Central Africans themselves: “It is amazing. They have told us, they have told their own leaders they are tired of fighting each other. They want a new era where transition will be done through the ballot box and not the bullet. And this is what gives me hope and I believe together we will succeed.”