UNITED NATIONS — New allegations of sexual abuse by international peacekeepers against civilians in Central African Republic emerged this week, even as the world body began an aggressive campaign to name and shame perpetrators.
A report released Wednesday by advocacy group AIDS-Free World alleged that as many as 98 Central African Republic girls were sexually abused by international peacekeepers between 2013 and 2015 — including one particularly disturbing report of children being forced into bestiality.
“The reports of new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN and non-UN personnel in the Central African Republic are sickening,” said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. Power, who was visiting Central African Republic for the inauguration of the country’s newly elected president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, also used her trip as an opportunity to interview victims.
“In these cases, as in all reported allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, it is critically important that prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations be carried out,” she said.
Early last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a 41-page report listing 69 allegations of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers worldwide in 2015 alone. Central African Republic accounted for 22 of the reported instances.
That report was released a few weeks after seven additional allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation were reported against peacekeepers in Central African Republic, where the UN has a peacekeeping mission consisting of nearly 11,000 troops.
A team of UN investigators has been interviewing victims on the ground in Central African Republic, according to Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for Ban.
The new reports come as the UN began a program to list dates and locations of abuses alleged against peacekeepers and follow their cases to their conclusion, all the while identifying the countries implicated in the crimes and urging the legal systems in the defendants’ home countries to administer justice.
UN peacekeepers are not disciplined by the UN system, but by the countries that dispatched them on UN missions.
UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said in a statement that he was “appalled by repeated reports and allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by the very people meant to protect civilians and vulnerable populations in conflict and post-conflict situations.”