UN investigators have interviewed over 100 victims of sexual violence by French troops in the Central African Republic. An advocacy group also reported the soldiers making three girls have sex with a dog.
United Nations teams sent to the CAR in the last two weeks said they spoke to 108 alleged victims of sexual violence, mostly women. Officials said the allegations against soldiers of France's Sangaris mission dated back to 2014.
According to AIDS-Free World, an organization tracking sex abuse cases, three girls said they were tied up and undressed by a French Sangaris soldier, who then forced them to have sex with a dog in return for money.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he was "shocked to the core" by the accusations. "We must face the fact that a number of troops sent to protect people instead acted with hearts of darkness," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Strong action against offenders
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said the organization was taking the allegations seriously and that the investigation "must leave no stone unturned." Hussein also said that countries sending the troops would have to punish those committing such crimes with appropriate sentences.
France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre expressed "profound indignation and anger" at the new cases and said his country's officials were "determined to shed full light on these grave allegations, in cooperation with the United Nations and the Central African Republic."
"It is clear that if the facts were proven, exemplary disciplinary action will be imposed, in addition to the criminal response," Delattre added.
France's Sangaris intervention force was sent to the Central African Republic in 2013. The troops were not part of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA, but were mandated by the UN Security Council to restore peace to the country.
The UN Security Council is hearing a report on sexual abuses, which includes acts allegedly committed by UN peacekeepers in Burundi and Gabon, also part of the MINUSCA force.
mg/ rc (AP, AFP)