UN: UN rights chief alarmed at more sexual abuse allegations in CAR

New Ylork, US (PANA) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al-Hussein
on Friday said he was extremely alarmed at continuing allegations of sexual exploitation
and abuse of minors in Central African Republic (CAR) by members of foreign military

The alleged crimes mostly took place in 2014, according to a from the UN human rights office, but only came to light in recent weeks.

It said that a joint UN team in CAR recently interviewed a number of girls who said they
had been sexually exploited or abused by foreign soldiers.

"These are extremely serious accusations and it is crucial that these cases are thoroughly
and urgently investigated," Al-Hussein said.

Four of the girls said their abusers were attached to contingents operating as part of
the European Union operation (EUFOR/CAR), and two of the girls interviewed said
they were raped by EUFOR soldiers, and the two other girls said they were paid to have
sexual relationships with other EUFOR soldiers.

"While the nationalities of some of the soldiers remain unclear, three of the girls said
they believed their abusers were members of the Georgian EUFOR contingent, and the
four girls were aged between 14 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse," Al-Hussein noted.

The statement disclosed that UN human rights staff also interviewed a girl and a boy,
aged seven and nine respectively when they were allegedly abused in 2014 by French
Sangaris troops.

"The girl said she had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle
of water and a sachet of cookies. Both she and the nine-year-old boy said that other
children were abused in a similar fashion in repeated incidents involving several
French soldiers.

"All six cases involving non-UN foreign military forces took place in, or near, the
M’Poko camp for displaced people next to the airport in the capital, Bangui," it stated.

The UN human rights chief last week raised the cases with the European, Georgian
and French authorities, as well as with another country on a similar allegation for
which additional corroboration is needed.

All four authorities have promptly responded to the UN human rights chief and stated
that they have already begun investigations or referred the cases to relevant judicial authorities in their respective countries.

"I am heartened at the initial responses we have received from the countries concerned,
as well as from the European Union, which show they take these terrible allegations very seriously," said Al-Hussein, noting that his office will continue to closely follow up on these cases and any others which emerge as the UN team on the ground continues its investigations.

"Far too many of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with the perpetrators
enjoying full impunity. This simply encourages further violations, and member States
have an obligation to investigate, prosecute and ensure that the victims receive the
redress to which they are entitled.

"As more and more cases emerge, implicating more and more national contingents,
it is also clear that all foreign military forces, whether UN or non-UN, must employ
much stronger and more effective actions to prevent further abuse and exploitation
and not just in CAR," he stated.

The UN human rights office also reported that a number of cases involving UN
peacekeepers came to light during the interviews carried out by the joint UN team.

"Those cases are being raised separately by the UN departments dealing with
peacekeeping with the relevant countries that contribute troops to the UN
Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), in accordance
with standard UN policy," the statement added.
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  29Jan2016

29 january 2016 16:22:16

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