UN Names New Peacekeeping Chief For CAR

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon to replace the ousted chief of the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, diplomats said Thursday.

Ban informed Security Council members of his choice to replace Babacar Gaye of Senegal during a closed-door meeting called to discuss his unprecedented decision to fire a mission chief.

Gaye was sacked following a string of allegations of child sex abuse by peacekeepers serving in the MINUSCA force that have been deeply damaging to the United Nations.
Onanga-Anyanga recently served as Ban’s envoy to Burundi.

The MINUSCA force, which took over from an African Union mission nearly a year ago, has been plagued by a series of allegations involving its soldiers.

So far, there have been 57 claims of misconduct, 11 of which possibly involve child sex abuse.

The latest allegations revealed by Amnesty International involve a 12-year-old girl who told witnesses that she was raped by a UN soldier during a search operation in the Muslim PK5 district of Bangui last week.

The Central African Republic is struggling to recover from the sectarian violence that exploded after a 2013 coup, pitting mainly Muslim rebels against Christian militias.

Ban spoke by videoconference to the envoys and force commanders of all 16 mission and told them they “were directly accountable for maintaining conduct and discipline within their mission,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Ban in June appointed a review panel led by former Canadian Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps to look into how the UN handled allegations that French and African troops sexually abused children in the Central African Republic beginning in late 2013.

While those cases allegedly took place before MINUSCA was launched, the allegations were documented in a report by UN rights officials that sat on UN desks for months before action was taken.

The decision to sack a mission chief was described as “unprecedented” by the UN spokesman and a clear signal that the United Nations was moving to address mounting allegations of misconduct by the blue helmets.

In announcing Gaye’s resignation, Ban recalled that peacekeepers are entrusted with a mission to protect the most vulnerable and that he would not “tolerate any action by people who replace trust with fear.”
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