The UN says it is taking steps to address allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the wake of the repatriation of Gabonese troops three months ago.
Updating journalists at UN headquarters in New York, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq reported on action by the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA, and engagement with troop-contributing countries.
In mid-September, the UN announced that all Gabonese military units deployed to the CAR were being immediately repatriated following credible reports of alleged abuse of five girls.
“Since the allegations came to light, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Gabonese authorities have collected evidence which we understand, would allow the Gabonese authorities to complete their national investigation and inform us of its outcome,” Haq said.
All identified victims have been referred for assistance, he added, underlining this priority.
MINUSCA is also looking at ways to address gaps in assistance.
A project to provide victims with medical, mental health, psychosocial, legal, and material support is currently under review.
The UN mission also deployed teams to several remote locations in the CAR and gathered information regarding more recently reported allegations of sexual misconduct involving ‘blue helmets’.
“We are in the process of informing the member states concerned, so that national investigations can be launched as soon as possible, with the assistance of the Office of Internal Oversight Services,” Haq said.
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Meanwhile, constructive exchanges continue between the UN and countries which contribute troops and police officers to peacekeeping missions.
“We expect them to take urgent measures to address all allegations concerning their personnel and ensure that perpetrators who are found to have engaged in sexual exploitation or abuse are held accountable in line with national laws,” he said.
Senior leaders at UN Headquarters in New York have stepped up engagement with other peacekeeping missions, and with other countries contributing uniformed personnel to MINUSCA.
According to him, this is to ensure that matters related to sexual exploitation and abuse are addressed, victims are supported, and prevention is strengthened.
“We remain strongly engaged with troop and police-contributing countries to ensure that vetting and selection of their peacekeeping personnel strictly meet the UN standards of conduct.
“The Secretary-General will continue his efforts to ensure that the UN system as well as member states, work in a coordinated manner to combat sexual exploitation and abuse and spare no effort in supporting the victims.” (NAN)