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UN finds more cases of child sexual abuse in Central African Republic

UN team learns of more children who say their abusers were European troops

The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, says his staffers have in recent weeks turned up six more cases of sexual abuse of children by European troops in the Central African Republic.

His office says a U.N. team interviewed five girls and a boy who claimed their abusers were part of European Union, French and Georgian military operations. The abuse allegedly took place near a camp for displaced people near Bangui Airport.

The U.N. rights office said three of the girls said they believed their abusers were members of the Georgian contingent, and a 7-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy said they were abused by French troops.

An independent panel in December 2015 found that a report detailing the allegations sat on U.N. desks for months until a newspaper article in April sparked outrage over the case.

The report accused the U.N. of "gross institutional failure" to act on allegations that French and other peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic and to take steps to prevent more assaults.

The report also found that the accounts, by children as young as 9, of trading oral sex and other acts in exchange for food in the middle of a war zone in early 2014 were "passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple U.N. offices, with no one willing to take responsibility." 

The Central African Republic is struggling to recover from sectarian violence that exploded after a 2013 coup, pitting mainly Muslim rebels against Christian militias. 

Wire services

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