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UN to Repatriate Central Africa Peacekeepers Unit After Abuse Claims

FILE - FILE - An United Nations peacekeeper holds his weapon during the the patrol in Paoua, Central African Republic on December 5, 2021.

BANGUI — The United Nations will repatriate a Tanzanian unit of its peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic after allegations of exploitation and sexual assault, the force said on Friday.

Preliminary evidence gathered by the U.N.'s internal oversight body revealed that 11 of the 60-strong contingent "are involved in the exploitation and sexual abuse of four victims," the MINUSCA force said in a statement.

MINUSCA said the 11 soldiers were deployed at a temporary base in the western CAR but did not provide a timeline of the alleged crimes.

The victims "received immediate care and support through partners of the mission based on their medical, pyscho-social and protection needs," MINUSCA added.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, said the unit "will be repatriated once their presence is no longer required by the investigators."

The U.N. said it had informed the Tanzanian authorities, which "noted the seriousness of the allegations and pledged to take the necessary measures."

CAR authorities had not responded to AFP requests for comment.

The United Nations has for years been trying to eradicate exploitation and sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, including in the conflict-torn CAR.

In 2021, it ordered 450 Gabonese peacekeepers to leave the country after allegations of abuse.

The U.N. says it has recorded 254 accusations of sexual abuse or exploitation against MINUSCA members since 2015 and identified 659 victims.

"The United Nations remains committed to robustly implementing the secretary general's vision of zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse," Dujarric added.

Civil war has plagued the CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, since a Muslim-dominated armed coalition called the Seleka ousted former president Francois Bozize in 2013.

Bozize raised his own predominantly Christian and animist militias, known as the anti-Balaka, to regain power.

Civilians are often victims of the conflict.

The United Nations has accused all sides of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity, despite the presence of the peacekeeping mission.