Will the UN succeed in bringing justice to the victims of sexual abuse in CAR?

“I think it’s hard to imagine the outrage that the people working for the United Nations and for the causes of peace and security feel when these kinds of allegations come to light. Particularly involving minors, it’s so hard to understand.”— Mr. Anthony Banbury, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support.

While addressing the sexual abuse allegations trailing peacekeepers in the Central African Republic on January 29, 2016, Banbury, who was reportedly close to tears, assured the world that the UN is working hard to bring the perpetrators of these abuses to justice.

Allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the CAR have been circulating since 2013 and following the report by the United Nations, the French government launched an investigation to fish the culprits out. However, that did not help reduce the recurrence of these allegations. By August 2015, the rate at which these acts were occurring had become alarming and both the UN and MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) came under fire for treating the accusations with levity.

Last year, after a peacekeeper was accused of raping a 12-year old girl, Ban Ki moon, the UN secretary General, fired the head of the MINUSCA force, Babacar Gaye as a show of the UN’s intolerance to misconduct among its peacekeepers. However, recent events prove that the UN is not doing enough to uncover and stop the activities of these sexual predators.

A recent investigation by the Human Rights Watch has uncovered seven victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in Bambari, the peacekeeping base in the CAR. According to HRW, all these victims were living at the internally displaced camp in Bambari. Also, last week, the UN human rights office alleged that there are six more cases of child sexual abuse by European troops in the CAR. Reportedly, a 7-year-old had to perform sexual acts on soldiers in this area in exchange for water and cookies.

It was the horrifying weight of this accusation that brought Banbury near tears. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central African Republic and head of MINUSCA, Chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, also condemned this heinous act and promised that justice will be served to the guilty officials. Anyanga also mentioned that MINUSCA is in “in combat mode” and that he “will not rest until these heinous acts are uncovered, perpetrators are punished and incidents cease.”

However, can the UN be trusted to investigate and bring the culprits to book? And what measures are being taken by the home countries to ensure that justice is served?

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