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France, for its part, has indicated it is investigating the allegations against its troops.The UN has committed to release, at a minimum, a summary of the report at the end of the inquiry.
The allegations dating back to December 2013 only came to light a month ago when the report was leaked to French authorities by a senior UN official, who now faces an internal disciplinary inquiry.
The internal report said child victims interviewed by UN staff claimed to have performed oral sex on French soldiers while also accusing Equatorial Guinea and Chadian troops of sodomy.
The implicated troops were not part of a UN peacekeeping force at the time of the alleged abuse but the UN's handling of the allegations when they came to light have raised more questions than answers.
“The Secretary-General has decided to set up an External Independent Review to examine the UN system’s handling of these allegations.
The review will examine the treatment of the specific report of abuse in the Central African Republic as well as a broad range of systemic issues related to how the UN responds to serious information of this kind,” says Secretary General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
UN officials first came to hear about the claims in mid-2014 but it took almost a year for the allegations to surface, after it was leaked by senior official Anders Kompass who was then suspended by the organisation for the leak.The decision was quickly overturned when an appeals tribunal ordered the UN to immediately lift his suspension pending the completion of its internal investigation.“It’s not an issue of just responding to bad press, it’s an understanding that there are systems that failed here, that this was not handled in a way the SG would have liked it to be handled and that’s why he’s calling for, will identify someone to lead this review to look at the broad range of systemic issues that relate to how we respond to this kind of information,” explains Dujarric.The leaked report identified several children affected and exposed the UN for seemingly dragging its feet in dealing with the allegations it had long become privy to.“As has been stated over the past few weeks, the Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers in the CAR, as well as allegations of how this was handled by the various parts of the UN system involved.His intention in setting up this review is to ensure that the United Nations does not fail the victims of sexual abuse, especially when committed by those who are meant to protect them.” The terms of reference have not yet been decided or who will lead it investigation.