UN com­man­der wants Congo troops out

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

CONGOLESE peace­keep­ers in the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic (CAR) have been ac­cused of sex­ual abuse, fuel traf­fick­ing and poor dis­ci­pline by the UN force com­man­der who has called for them to be sent home.

Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Balla Keita said Congo should “com­mit it­self to im­prov­ing with­out de­lay the stan­dard of its unit” or else a “de­ci­sion should be made to repa­tri­ate and re­place the Congolese bat­tal­ion”, ac­cord­ing to a memo dated May 12.

The doc­u­ment was re­leased by the Code Blue Cam­paign of NGOs, which seeks to ex­pose cases of sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion in UN peace­keep­ing.

Is­mini Palla, a UN peace­keep­ing spokesper­son, con­firmed that an as­sess­ment of the Congolese con­tin­gent of the Mi­nusca force in the CAR had been car­ried out.

“Re­sults of this eval­u­a­tion have been shared with the mem­ber-state and we are fol­low­ing up on op­tions,” she said. “UN Peace­keep­ing is com­mit­ted to the high­est stan­dards of per­for­mance and con­duct.

“We will spare no ac­tion in or­der to meet this goal.”

Due to al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion last year, 120 of 750 Congolese troops were repa­tri­ated fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion (SEA).

There were at least seven vic­tims, six of whom were chil­dren, a UN re­port said. “The bat­tal­ion is no­to­ri­ous for SEA mis­con­ducts, fuel traf­fick­ing and poor dis­ci­pline,” Keita wrote in the memo, adding that he had sent “six blame let­ters” to the bat­tal­ion com­man­der this year.

The peace­keep­ers from Congo are de­ployed in Ber­berati, the coun­try’s third-largest city. The UN has 10 000 troops and 2 000 peo­ple serv­ing in its Mi­nusca force in the CAR, which de­scended into bloody sec­tar­ian fight­ing af­ter the 2013 over­throw of Fran­cois Boz­ize. ANA

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