GENEVA, 31st March, 2016 (WAM) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday described the latest allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN and French soldiers, as well as by local armed groups, in the Kemo prefecture of the Central African Republic as “sickening,” and said that major efforts were already underway to investigate allegations uncovered by a series of UN teams sent to the region over the past two weeks.
“The UN investigation into these sickening allegations, which suggest sexual abuse and exploitation of a large number of women and girls, must leave no stone unturned,” Zeid said. “We are taking these allegations – some of which are particularly odious — extremely seriously. It is vital that the victims are protected and receive all necessary care.”
Most of the allegations relate to Burundian and Gabonese contingents present in the Kemo region between 2013 and 2015, as well as to the separate French Sangaris force stationed in the same region in the same period. Allegations of abuse in other parts of the country are also continuing to be investigated.
The authorities of all three countries have been formally notified of the allegations against their troops.
“The States to whom these troops belong must do more to stop the abuse happening, to punish those committing these acts with appropriate sentences, and to prevent further violations,” Zeid said. “Otherwise this awful cycle of abuse will never end. Simply being sent home in disgrace is a grossly inadequate response to acts such as raping minors. On the UN side, we have vowed to do our utmost to expose such crimes when they occur, and to do everything in our power to encourage and cajole States to do far more than they are doing at present. There has to be accountability and there has to be credible deterrence.”