FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: +1-646-924-1710, +1-647-406-5731 (EST)
Shocking new reports of peacekeeper sexual abuse in the Central African Republic
March 30, 2016 — Sources have informed AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue campaign that the following information, based on newly received allegations of sexual abuse committed as recently as this week and as far back as 2013, is in the hands of the UN’s senior leadership:
- Two weeks ago, UNICEF interviewed 98 girls in a province of the Central African Republic (CAR) who reported that they had been sexually abused by international peacekeepers.
- Last Saturday, March 26, 2016, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and a delegation from MINUSCA, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in CAR, met with local leaders and victims who reported that troops from France and Gabon have sexually abused several girls in their province. Some victims left the area due to stigmatization by the community.
- During that visit, three victims interviewed by a MINUSCA Human Rights Officer reported that in 2014, they and a fourth girl were tied up and undressed inside a camp by a military commander from the Sangaris force (the French military intervention in CAR) and forced to have sex with a dog. Each girl was then given 5000 Central African Francs (<USD $9). The three girls interviewed sought basic medical treatment. The fourth girl later died of an unknown disease. One of the survivors said that she was called “the Sangaris’ dog” by people in the community.
- A women’s association informed the MINUSCA delegation that many cases of sexual abuse and rape have been committed by international peacekeeping forces and CAR combatants.
- Medical assistance in the area is currently non-existent. An NGO based outside the area has one mobile clinic that moves in and out of the region.
- All the alleged perpetrators have reportedly left CAR, returning home in 2015.
- In another part of CAR, the mother of a 16-year-old girl informed local police that a Congolese UN peacekeeper raped her daughter in a hotel room at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, March 28, 2016. When police questioned the accused in the presence of his UN military commander, the soldier confirmed that he ‘had sexual intercourse’ with the victim several times, and paid her between 2000 and 3000 Central African Francs.
- Sources also informed AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue campaign that on March 29, 2016, “all Senior-Level actors”, including Under-Secretaries-General Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; Jane Holl Lute, Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse; and Miguel de Serpa Soares, Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel, were called by Ban Ki-moon’s Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Edmond Mulet, to an urgent crisis meeting on the recently disclosed reports from CAR. These include crimes from 2013, 2014 and 2015 that “may have been perpetrated by a combination of non-UN and UN” peacekeeping personnel.
Decisions reportedly taken at that meeting:
Ensure a unified system response to victims, and unified “messaging” to:
i. the Secretary-General;
ii. the host government (the Central African Republic);
iii. the capitals of implicated Troop Contributing Countries;
iv. the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly;
v. the media;
vi. relevant NGOs, including Human Rights Watch; and
vii. regional organizations (the African Union and the European Union).
- UNICEF has allocated approximately 10 per cent of its remaining annual budget (USD $2 million) to augment response capacity in CAR, which Anthony Lake said will be difficult to sustain unless more funds are requested or identified. Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare has instructed that MINUSCA funds can be used for victim assistance where necessary, including transportation, medical support and emergency psycho-social care, and he will request Member States to make urgent contributions to an “established” victims’ assistance trust fund.
- CAR Crisis Group Principals will “give urgent consideration to a strategy” to mitigate risk to victims, communities, and potential witnesses.
- Investigations: “Integrated/multidisciplinary assessment teams” including Office of Internal Oversight Services investigators as well as UN staff members from MINUSCA’s Human Rights Office, UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund, have been sent to investigate in affected remote areas of CAR, and “additional members to support urgent investigations are being dispatched in the coming days.”
- By close of business today, March 30, 2016, teams in CAR were to provide the leadership in New York with the best available detailed information “to inform the Spokesperson.”
- Also today, March 30, 2016, the UN would inform:
i. the Government of the Central African Republic;
ii. Member State(s) implicated “where a prima facie case has been established;” and
iii. Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
- Notification to other implicated Member States was marked “To Be Determined.”
- Starting April 1 – 5, 2016, the Secretary-General is to consider dispatching high-level envoys to Member State(s) whose troops have been implicated, “where prima facie allegations have been confirmed.”
- Media: Based on updates by the Department of Peacekeeping/Department of Field Services, UNICEF, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Spokesman was to prepare an ‘If Asked’ response for the Secretary-General and convey it by March 29, 2016.
AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization devoted to exposing and addressing injustice, abuse, and inequality. We launched the Code Blue campaign to end impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel. .