UN announces review of how it handled abuse claims in Africa

Ban Ki-moon ‘disturbed’ by alleged sexual abuse of children by soldiers in Bangui

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced a review of how the body dealt with claims of child sexual abuse by soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea in the Central African Republic. File photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced a review of how the body dealt with claims of child sexual abuse by soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea in the Central African Republic. File photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Wednesday that he would set up an external independent review of how the world body handled allegations of sexual abuse of young children in the Central African Republic by French and African soldiers.

A six-page internal UN report obtained by Reuters detailed alleged abuse by troops from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea between December 2013 and June 2014 at a centre for displaced people in the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui.

The UN has come under fire because of its slow response after preparing an initial 2014 report on the allegations. It is currently conducting an internal investigation of its handling of the allegations.

“The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers in the CAR, as well as allegations of how this was handled by the various parts of the UN system involved,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters.

“His intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them.”

He said the review, which would be established in the coming days, would also look at a “range of systemic issues related to how the UN responds to serious information of this kind”.

France intervened in the Central African Republic, a former French colony, some 19 months ago to help an African Union peacekeeping force stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Séléka rebels.

The UN took over the African peacekeeping force in September and France started withdrawing some of it 2,000 troops this year.

Reuters