UN peacekeepers deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) have been found to have paid girls as young as 13 years of age to conduct sexual activities for them.
At least four members of the world body’s mission to the CAR are accused of having exploited the young girls “for anywhere from 50 cents to three dollars,” the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing an unnamed UN official.
The perpetrators, who are said to be from Gabon, Morocco, Burundi, and France, had contacted local procurers for the purpose.
Last Wednesday, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as the peacekeeping force is known, vowed tough action over the allegations.
“We have come to this country to help a population, which is already traumatized. It is absolutely unacceptable for even a single peacekeeping soldier to be involved in these awful acts,” head of MINUSCA Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told a news conference in the CAR’s capital, Bangui.
At least 26 incidents of such activities by UN forces have been found since their dispatch to the country in 2014.
The UN has asked three countries to investigate their soldiers serving in the MINUSCA over the incidents.
“Where there is doubt we will take the side of the victims,” the official said. “The sanctions will be strong when we have established who is responsible.”
France maintains a contingent in the CAR. Fourteen soldiers from the French force are already under investigation in France over allegations dating to the 2013-2014 period that they forced children to perform sexual acts in exchange for food.
The CAR plunged into chaos and sectarian violence in March 2013, when the Seleka and anti-Balaka rebels turned their guns on each other in an attempt to dominate the country’s politics and vast mineral resources.