Congo peacekeepers to leave CAR amid sex abuse allegations

peacekeepers in CAR Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UN mission in CAR has been plagued by allegations of sexual abuse

Congo-Brazzaville is to withdraw more than 600 troops serving as peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) following claims of sexual abuse, the UN says.

A review of the Congolese deployment pointed to "systemic problems", a statement said.

The UN peacekeeping force in the CAR has faced scores of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Almost 13,000 people are serving as part of the mission, known as Minusca.

French troops have also been accused of sex abuse in CAR. Charges were dropped against six French soldiers earlier this year, however another investigation remains open.

UN peacekeepers were deployed in 2014, with the CAR in turmoil after mainly Muslim rebels ousted President Francois Bozize, sparking a backlash from largely Christian militias.

Thousands have been killed in the violence that followed, with hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries.

The UN said the review of the Congo-Brazzaville deployment found "the nature and extent of existing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, in their totality, point to systemic problems in command and control".

"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," it added.

A smaller contingent of police from the same force will stay on, the UN said.

With allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, including against children, continuing to emerge, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has promised a "new approach" to tackle the issue.

It is up to the countries who contribute troops to prosecute criminal cases, but guilty verdicts might not be in a nation's best interests as that would taint its reputation in peacekeeping, the BBC's Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo says.

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