UN withdraws Gabonese peacekeepers from Central African Republic after allegations of sexual abuse
The United Nations has decided to withdraw some 450 Gabonese peacekeepers from the Central African Republic (CAR) over allegations of sexual abuse, the Gabonese Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday.
“In recent weeks, exceptionally serious incidents that violate military ethics and the honor of the armed forces have been reported, committed by certain elements of the Gabonese battalions …”, the ministry said in a statement sent to AFP.
“After many cases of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse that are being prosecuted, the United Nations decided today to withdraw the Gabonese contingent from MINUSCA,” the UN mission in the Central African Republic, and “Gabon has opened an investigation,” read in the notice. .
CAR, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been chronically unstable since it gained independence from France in 1960.
It is currently suffering the aftermath of a brutal civil conflict that erupted in 2013 after a coup against then-President Francois Bozize.
MINUSCA was deployed by the UN in April 2014 to try to end the conflict that pits the Seleka coalition of armed groups that toppled Bozize against the militias that supported him.
The conflict has been drastically reduced in intensity, but MINUSCA, with more than 10,000 troops, is still present in the country, mainly to protect civilians.
Allegations of sexual crimes involving peacekeepers have been recurrent and, although some contingents have withdrawn in the past, to date no investigation has resulted in convictions, at least publicly.