Issouf Sanogo / AFP / Getty Images

UN peacekeepers accused of sexual abusing four children

Minors living in a Central African Republic refugee camp say peacekeepers from DR Congo abused them

United Nations peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of sexually abusing four children who were living in a camp for displaced civilians in the Central African Republic, a U.N. spokesman said Tuesday.

The four victims were sexually abused between 2014 and 2015, spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

The U.N. mission in the Central African Republic has been hit by a wave of allegations of sex abuse by its peacekeepers, whose mandate is to protect civilians in the strife-torn country.

“These four allegations involve peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.

U.N. officials received information about the allegations from aid groups on Feb. 11 who reported that the four minors were living at Ngakobo camp, in the Ouaka prefecture of the Central African Republic.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fired the head of the 10,000-strong MINUSCA force in August over the mounting number of sexual abuse cases, but the allegations have continued to surface.

The Kinshasa government was notified on Monday about the allegations and now has 10 days to decide whether it will carry out its own investigation of the soldiers or ask the U.N. to take the lead.

After rape allegations targeted troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, the U.N. had decided to send the full contingent of some 120 soldiers back home.

Ban last week appointed a special coordinator, American Jane Holl Lute, who will be tasked with improving the U.N. response to sexual abuse cases involving peacekeepers.

This followed a report by an independent panel that found the U.N. had grossly mishandled the cases despite the official zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence.

French and European Union soldiers serving in the Central African Republic also face allegations of sexual abuse, although their missions are not under the U.N. flag.

In most of those cases, the young girls and boys were offered food in exchange for sex.

Agence France-Presse

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