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4 new sex abuse allegations in Central African Republic

17 February 2016, 15:00

United Nations — The United Nations said Tuesday it has confirmed four new allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against minors by U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the allegations involved peacekeepers from Congo and were reported to the peacekeeping mission last week by humanitarian partners.

The four minors lived in the Ngakobo displaced persons camp in central Ouaka prefecture, and they were allegedly sexually abused and exploited in 2014 and 2015, he said.

The U.N. has already announced that a Congolese battalion in Bambari is being sent home, starting on Feb. 25, because of previous allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The United Nations has been unable to explain why so many rapes and other sexual abuse by peacekeepers have been alleged in Central African Republic, which has been gripped by deadly violence between Christians and Muslims since late 2013.

An independent panel in December accused the U.N. of "gross institutional failure" for its handling of allegations against both U.N. and non-U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic since the violence there began.

Haq says Congo has 10 days to decide whether to investigate the latest allegations and if it doesn't, the UN will.

The United Nations, however, does not have the power to conduct criminal investigations or prosecutions in such cases. It is up to countries to prosecute their own peacekeepers, and U.N. records show that they often do not.

The world body has announced that in the coming weeks it will start publicly tracking sexual abuse and exploitation cases, with details of allegations and countries' responses posted online.

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- AP


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