17 UN personnel accused of sex abuse in C African Republic

Bangui: A civilian staff member with the United Nations mission in Central African Republic is alleged to have committed sexual exploitation, bringing the total number of those accused of sexual abuse to 17 since the peacekeeping mission arrived to help stabilize the country, the UN said today.

The UN mission gave few details about the allegations other than to say that the suspect is a civilian. Thirteen of the 17 cases involve UN peacekeeping personnel, it said.

The UN mission “condemns in the strongest possible terms any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel in the CAR,” said the statement issued today.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary-general told reporters in New York that the accused “remains in country and will not be allowed to leave the Central African Republic for the time being.”

Local authorities have been informed that the UN is conducting an internal investigation, said Dujarric. If the case goes forward, the person will have no UN immunity, he said.

Central African Republic has been rocked by violence between Muslims and Christians since mostly Muslim rebels overthrew the president in 2013. Thousands have died, while hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries.

The UN took over peacekeeping duties from an African Union force in April 2014. Member states have the sole responsibility to prosecute their troops, but a UN investigative report released this summer showed that countries can take little action.

Sexual abuse allegations also have been made against members of the French peacekeeping mission, which is separate from the UN one trying to stabilize the country.