New claims of peacekeeper sexual abuse in C. Africa

Ban Ki-moon denounces sexual abuse in U.N. peacekeeping as a “cancer in our system”

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United Nations officials have received new disturbing allegations that peacekeepers in the Central African Republic sexually abused three young women -- the latest claims targeting the scandal-tainted U.N. mission.

U.N. spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told reporters on Wednesday that the events took place in recent weeks and that the victims’ families had notified the mission on August 12.

“These new allegations concern a report that three young females were raped by three members of a MINUSCA military contingent,” said Maestracci.

One of the alleged victims is a minor.

Maestracci declined to name the nationality of the troops, but sources said they were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The contingent was serving in the town of Bambari, northeast of Bangui.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week fired MINUSCA’s mission chief, declaring “enough is enough” after a string of allegations of child sex abuse and other misconduct by the 12,000-strong force.

Ban has denounced sexual abuse in U.N. peacekeeping as a “cancer in our system.”

The MINUSCA force, which took over from an African Union mission nearly a year ago, has been plagued by a series of allegations involving its soldiers.

There have been at least 57 claims of misconduct, 11 of which possibly involve child sex abuse.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday expressed outrage and anger over the mounting allegations and said troop-contributing countries must investigate.

Under U.N. rules, it is up to the troop-contributing country to investigate and prosecute soldiers accused of misconduct while serving under the U.N. flag.

The U.N. spokeswoman said U.N. peacekeeping officials had requested a meeting with the troop-contributing country to discuss the latest allegations.

MINUSCA is also investigating allegations of rape by troops from Morocco and Burundi.

Ban in June appointed a review panel led by former Canadian Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps to look into how the U.N. handled separate allegations that French and African troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic beginning in late 2013.

Those findings are expected in the coming months.

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