11 UN peacekeepers charged with sexual exploitation and abuse in Central African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Eleven UN peacekeepers stationed in the Central African Republic have been charged with sexual exploitation and abuse, the United Nations announced Friday.

Investigations were still ongoing, but preliminary evidence gathered by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services revealed that members of a Tanzanian peacekeeping unit deployed in the west of the country were involved in the exploitation and abuse of four victims, according to a statement from the United Nations Multidimensional Office. Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, also known as MINUSCA.

“Upon learning of the allegations, MINUSCA immediately deployed a rapid response team to assess the allegations and identify and listen to the alleged victims,” ​​the statement said. “Immediately afterwards, MINUSCA transferred the unit concerned to another base, where it is confined to barracks, in order to protect the victims and the integrity of the investigation.

“Victims received immediate care and support through mission partners, based on their medical, psychosocial and protection needs.

Evidence also points to a breakdown in command and control of personnel, and once the investigation is complete, the entire unit of 60 peacekeepers will be repatriated. Some of the victims are believed to be minors, but this remains to be confirmed, the UN said.

The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced deadly inter-communal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced President François Bozizé out of office. Most Christian militias then retaliated, also targeting civilians on the streets. Thousands of people were killed and most Muslims in the capital fled in fear.

A UN peacekeeping mission was deployed the following year and today numbers nearly 17,500 men in uniform. In November, the mission’s mandate was extended for a year.

The United Nations has long been in the spotlight over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, particularly those based in the Central African Republic and neighboring Congo.

In 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres ordered the immediate repatriation of a Gabonese contingent operating in the country, following credible reports of sexual abuse by some of its 450 personnel and allegations past.


Sam Mednick contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

Leave a Comment