C Africa UN mission hit by 17th sex abuse claim

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A civilian member of the troubled United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic has been accused of sexual misconduct, taking the total number of such cases to 17, UN officials said on Sept.15.

The MINUSCA mission has been hit with a string of allegations against its members, including many that allegedly involve underage victims as young as 11.

The latest case involves a woman in her 30s who came forward on Sept.12 with the allegation of sexual exploitation dating back to about six months ago, a MINUSCA spokeswoman said.

It was the first case involving a civilian staff member and the allegation surfaced just days after new claims targeted a soldier accused by a woman who is now pregnant.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the man, whose nationality was not identified, “remains in the country and will not be allowed to leave for the time being.”

Civilians are not subject to the same rules when they face serious allegations as military and police personnel serving in UN peace mission.

Under UN rules, it is up to member states to investigate and prosecute their soldiers who face serious accusations while serving under the UN flag.

In this instance, the case is being investigated by the UN’s office of internal oversight and Central African Republic authorities have been notified.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has described the sexual abuse claims against the MINUSCA force as “catastrophic” after returning from a trip to the Central African Republic earlier this month.

“There are currently 17 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in the CAR that have been reported to MINUSCA,” the UN mission said in a statement.

“Of these 17 cases, 13 involve allegations against our military, one involves allegations against our police, one case is against a civilian, and in two cases, the perpetrator’s status is unknown,” it said.

“Each and every case has been documented and initial fact-finding, preservation of evidence, and/or investigations have been initiated.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month took the unprecedented step of firing mission chief Babacar Gaye of Senegal, and replacing him with Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon, over the wave of accusations.

Ban has described sexual abuse in peacekeeping as a “cancer in our system.”

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