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UN steps up action on sexual misconduct in wake of CAR allegations

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Deputy Head of MINUSCA, Lizbeth Cullity, pays a visit to beneficiaries of MINUSCA’s Community Violence Reduction (CVR) programme at the Training Center for Victims of Sexual Violence in Bangassou.

The UN continues to take steps to address allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the wake of the repatriation of Gabonese troops three months ago. 

Updating journalists on Monday, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq reported on action by the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA, and engagement with troop-contributing countries in New York. 

Assistance to victims 

In mid-September, the UN announced that all Gabonese military units deployed to the CAR were being immediately repatriated following credible reports of alleged abuse of five girls. 

“Since the allegations came to light, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Gabonese authorities have collected evidence which, we understand, would allow the Gabonese authorities to complete their national investigation and inform us of its outcome,” said Mr. Haq. 

All identified victims have been referred for assistance, he added, underlining this priority.  

MINUSCA is also looking at ways to address gaps in assistance.  A project to provide victims with medical, mental health, psychosocial, legal, and material support, is currently under review.  

Recent allegations investigated 

The UN mission also deployed teams to several remote locations in the CAR and gathered information regarding more recently reported allegations of sexual misconduct involving ‘blue helmets’.  

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“We are in the process of informing the Member States concerned, so that national investigations can be launched as soon as possible, with the assistance of the Office of Internal Oversight Services,” said Mr. Haq. 

Meanwhile, constructive exchanges continue between the UN and countries which contribute troops and police offers to peacekeeping missions 

“We expect them to take urgent measures to address all allegations concerning their personnel and ensure that perpetrators who are found to have engaged in sexual exploitation or abuse are held accountable in line with national laws,” Mr. Haq told journalists. 

‘Spare no effort’

Senior leaders at UN Headquarters in New York have stepped up engagement with other peacekeeping missions, and with other countries contributing uniformed personnel to MINUSCA. 

Mr. Haq said this is to ensure that matters related to sexual exploitation and abuse are addressed, victims are supported, and prevention is strengthened. 

“We remain strongly engaged with troop and police-contributing countries to ensure that vetting and selection of their peacekeeping personnel strictly meet the UN standards of conduct,” he said. 

“The Secretary-General will continue his efforts to ensure that the UN system, as well as Member States, work in a coordinated manner to combat sexual exploitation and abuse and spare no effort in supporting the victims.” 

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