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UN withdraws Gabon peacekeepers from CAR over sex abuse allegations

The United Nations (UN) will withdraw Gabon’s 450-strong peacekeeping contingent from the Central African Republic over sexual abuse allegations, a scourge that has long tarnished UN interventions, Gabon’s defense ministry said Wednesday.

“In recent weeks, exceptionally serious acts that go against military ethics and the honour of the armed forces, committed by certain elements in the Gabonese battalions… have been reported,” the ministry said in a statement sent to AFP.

“Following many cases of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse that are being processed, the United Nations today decided to withdraw the Gabonese contingent from MINUSCA”, the UN mission in the CAR, and “an investigation has been opened by Gabon,” the statement read.

One of the world’s poorest countries, CAR has been chronically unstable since it gained independence from France in 1960.

The former French colony is currently suffering from the aftermath of a brutal civil conflict that erupted in 2013 after a coup against then-president Francois Bozize.

MINUSCA was deployed by the UN in April 2014 to try to end the conflict pitting the Seleka coalition of armed groups that overthrew Bozize against militias supporting him.

The conflict has dramatically reduced in intensity, but MINUSCA still has 15,000 personnel in the country, of whom 14,000 are in uniform.

Their main mission is to protect civilians.


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