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UN must stamp out sexual abuses in CAR: Analyst

Gabonese soldiers from Misca (green berets) speak to Minusca soldiers (blue berets) in Bangui, the Central African Republic. (File photo)

Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire in Detroit, to discuss the latest allegations of bestiality and degrading sexual exploitation by foreign peacekeepers in conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR).

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: This is quite a scandal, isn’t it? Why doesn’t it make more headlines?

Azikiwe: Well it depends on where the news is being reported. Of course Press TV has been covering this situation consistently over the last year or so. There [have] been nearly a hundred allegations of these types of abuses by United Nations peacekeeping forces around the world. The concentration of these complaints [has] been in the Central African Republic (CAR) as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the northeast of the DRC, there have been attacks for the last several years by the Allied Democratic Forces, ADF group that is a rebel force that initiated its operations from neighboring Uganda.

However, the allegations against the Tanzanian troops are surprising because that has not been the tradition of the Tanzanian military to be accused of these types of abuses both in Tanzania as well as internationally.  

Press TV: So how much confidence should we have that the UN will be able to carry a proper investigation and take prompt action to hold those accountable?

Azikiwe: It brings it into serious doubt for the simple reason that these allegations are not new. DRC and CAR are two of the top states that have had interventions by the United Nations. In the Democratic Republic of Congo you have approximately 20,000 United Nations peacekeeping troops that have been stationed there for a considerable amount of time over a decade.

So as you mentioned, it is going to take a lot of stern measures on the part of the United Nations Secretary General. He has spoken out against this but on an administrative level. They have to screen these peacekeeping troops. They have to be inculcated with an outlook that says that you cannot be involved in these types of abuses with the people in other countries. This is doing nothing to resolve the internal conflicts in the DRC or in the CAR and what must be done is greater oversight and greater vetting on the part of the UN in order to stamp out these atrocities.

Press TV: Now I would imagine, as a final point that this really hurts the UN peacekeeping image, doesn’t it, because no one else anywhere else in the world would be able to trust peacekeepers who come into their country?  

Azikiwe: Yes and this has been a problem now for some 55 years. If we go back to the initial United Nations intervention in Congo in 1960, it eventually led to the coups d'état, the escape and kidnapping of Patrice Lumumba and his eventual execution.

So yes, it has a checkered history. There have been some countries that have benefited from United Nations intervention but unfortunately many of them have not. They have actually made the conditions worse through United Nations interventions.

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