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UN Sending Home Peacekeepers Implicated in Sexual Abuse

The United Nations said Friday that it is sending home a unit of 60 Tanzanian peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, after a preliminary investigation found credible evidence that 11 of them allegedly sexually exploited and abused at least four victims.

“The unit has been relocated to another base while investigations continue, and its members have been confined to the barracks, in order to protect victims and the integrity of the investigation,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “The unit will be repatriated once their presence is no longer required by the investigation.”

Dujarric said the victims are being provided with care and support by the mission’s humanitarian partners. He added that Tanzanian authorities have been notified and are deploying their own investigators to the Central African Republic.

“In reaffirming their commitment to zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, the Tanzanian authorities noted the seriousness of the allegations and have committed to taking the necessary action to address these matters,” Dujarric said.

VOA has asked Tanzania’s U.N. ambassador for comment.

According to the Department of Peacekeeping’s website, Tanzania has about 1,586 uniformed personnel in the C.A.R. as part of the more than 17,000-strong mission, known by its acronym, MINUSCA.

The U.N. has the authority to repatriate international peacekeepers when there is credible evidence that members of a military or police unit have engaged in widespread or systemic sexual exploitation or abuse.

Dujarric said the Tanzanian peacekeepers were deployed at a temporary operating base in the western part of the Central African Republic.

The country has been locked in a cycle of political instability, violence and human rights abuses since the 1990s. Intense sectarian fighting in 2013 led to the U.N. authorizing the stabilization mission to the country the following year.

Since it was established, MINUSCA has had repeated problems with international peacekeepers engaging in sexual exploitation and abuse, including the abuse of children.

“The United Nations remains committed to robustly implementing the secretary-general’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse,” Dujarric told reporters.