The United Nations (UN) has decided to withdraw 450 Gabonese peacekeepers from its Integrated Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca) after accusations of sexual exploitation and abuse, the ministry announced on Wednesday (September 15th). of the Gabonese defense. “In recent weeks, facts of particular gravity, contrary to military ethics and to the honor of the armies, committed by certain elements of the Gabonese battalions (…) have been reported “, explained the ministry in a press release.
“Following the numerous cases of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse being processed, the United Nations today decided to withdraw the Gabonese contingent from Minusca”, and “An investigation has been opened by Gabon”, is it also specified in the text.
Still 15,000 UN personnel in the country
La Minusca was deployed by the UN in April 2014 to try to end the bloody civil war that followed a 2013 coup against President François Bozizé. Fighting has been pitting the coalition of armed groups that had overthrown him, the Seleka – predominantly Muslim – against the militias supported by the deposed head of state, the anti-balaka – dominated by Christians and animists. While it peaked between 2014 and 2015, the civil war has now declined considerably in intensity. But the Minusca still has some 15,000 personnel in this poor Central African country, including 14,000 in uniform, with the priority mission of protecting civilians.
Charges of sexual crimes and offenses against peacekeepers are recurrent in the Central African Republic, some contingents have been withdrawn in the past but no investigation has resulted in convictions to date, at least publicly.