UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said he was in talks with authorities in Congo Republic on the fate of its troops who are facing accusations of misconduct while serving as peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
UN officials told AFP that the 629 troops serving in the MINUSCA force will be withdrawn as a result of the allegations of sex abuse, corruption and poor discipline.
Guterres was to announce the withdrawal during a press conference on Tuesday, but discussions were continuing with the government in Brazzaville, delaying the announcement.
The UN chief said he was engaged in “necessary contact with the authorities of the country before a public announcement of the measure.”
The decision follows a report by the UN commander of the MINUSCA force who warned that Brazzaville should either take steps to rein in the troops or be forced to repatriate them.
Lieutenant General Balla Keita of Senegal told UN headquarters that he had sent six letters of blame to the battalion commander already this year over alleged sexual abuse, fuel trafficking and lack of discipline.
The 629 peacekeepers deployed in Berberati, the country’s third-largest city, are Brazzaville’s only contribution to UN peacekeeping.
0:00 UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie slams peacekeepers over abuse Share UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie slams peacekeepers over abuse
Last year, 120 troops from the same contingent were sent back following allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA) involving at least seven victims, six of whom were children.
Following a MINUSCA assessment of the Berberati base in March, Keita said there had been “no improvements in the behaviour of the Congolese battalion.”
“The battalion is notorious for SEA misconducts, fuel trafficking and poor discipline,” Keita wrote in a memo sent last month.
The memo and a 66-page UN assessment of the Congolese troops were released by the Code Blue Campaign of non-governmental organisations seeking to expose cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers.
Code Blue on Tuesday welcomed the decision to withdraw the Congolese troops.
“Your action will ensure that vulnerable women and children in Berberati will be safe from further predation by that particular battalion of severely undisciplined, unfit military personnel sent to the embattled country by the UN,” the coalition said.