About 600 troops from Congo Republic serving as UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic will be returning home following allegations of sex abuse, the United Nations announced on Wednesday.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s government “decided to withdraw” the troops deployed in the MINUSCA mission after the commander complained of misconduct, a UN statement said.
“The review of the deployment of uniformed military personnel from the Republic of Congo found that the nature and extent of existing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, in their totality, point to systemic problems in command and control,” said the statement.
“These problems have also been compounded by issues related to the preparedness, overall discipline, maintenance of contingent-owned equipment, and logistical capacity of these troops.”
Lieutenant General Balla Keita of Senegal told UN headquarters in a leaked memo sent last month that he had sent six letters of blame to the battalion commander already this year over alleged sexual abuse, fuel trafficking and lack of discipline.
The peacekeepers deployed in Berberati, the country’s third-largest city, are Brazzaville’s only contribution to UN peacekeeping.
Despite the departure of the military troops, a smaller contingent of police from Congo Republic will remain in the mission in the Central African Republic, the UN said.
Last year, 120 troops from the same contingent were sent back following allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation involving at least seven victims, six of whom were children.
The 12,000-strong MINUSCA force has been plagued by a wave of sexual abuse allegations since the mission to help restore stability to the country began in 2014.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon in 2015 took the rare step of firing the then-head of the peacekeeping force over his handling of dozens of misconduct cases, including the rape of minors.
With sex abuse cases continuing to surface, Antonio Guterres vowed to toughen up the response to the damaging allegations when he took the UN helm in January.
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