A series of new “disturbing” allegations of misconduct in the Central African Republic were announced today by the Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSCA).
“These new allegations relate to a case where three young females – including one minor –were victims of rape by members of a MINUSCA military contingent. The Mission was informed of these allegations on August 12 2015 by the families of the three women,” explained Diane Corner during a press conference from Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR).
These allegations come on the heels of a case reported on 11 August by the human rights group Amnesty International, also regarding MINUSCA “blue helmets.” The day after the incident was revealed, MINUSCA chief General Babacar Gaye, resigned at the request of the Secretary-General.
Mrs. Corner said upon learning of the charges, the Mission immediately informed the UN Headquarters in New York, which notified the UN Office of the Internal Oversight Services and the relevant troop-contributing country. Per procedure, within 10 days, the country should notify the Organization whether it intends to investigate these allegations itself.
“If the country fails to open an investigation or does not respond to the request of UN Headquarters, the Organization will launch its own investigation,” explained the Deputy Special Representative.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that it was critical that troop contributing countries take swift action to appoint national investigation officers, conclude investigations and hold perpetrators accountable, UN spokesperson, Vannina Maestracci said today.
MINUSCA, assured Mrs. Corner, will make sure to preserve all available evidence related to the allegations. Assuming the penal responsibility, the contributing country is ultimately responsible for the good conduct of his own peacekeepers. The Mission and the agencies it partners with provide assistance to victims of such claims, added Mrs. Corner.
Reiterating MINUSCA’s firm commitment to fight all forms of misconduct by its personnel, she called for anyone with some information in this regard to share it with the Mission, which will guarantee anonymity and protection.
Deployed in early 2014, MINUSCA is currently aiming to defuse sectarian tensions across the country. More than two years of civil war and violence have displaced thousands of people amid ongoing clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian. In addition, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to operate in the south-eastern part of the country.
The situation of deep instability is further exacerbated by a growing humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that some 450,000 people remain displaced inside the country while thousands of others have sought asylum across the borders. Meanwhile, overall some 2.7 million people in the CAR remain in direct need of urgent humanitarian assistance.