Central African Republic: Statement attributable to Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

New York –I am outraged and profoundly saddened by the new allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by international peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

My heart breaks further as the majority of victims appear to be children. Girls and boys were allegedly subjected to depraved acts of sexual violence committed by troops present in the country to protect them, as well as by armed groups operating in the area. The children of the Central African Republic have been deeply affected by the conflict. Now, the lives of many have been permanently damaged and they have to overcome the trauma of sexual violence.

The UN system on the ground is currently ensuring the protection and well-being of the children and we fully support their efforts. Providing assistance to the victims is at the top of our collective agenda and I call on Member States to support these efforts.

My office will continue to monitor on the ongoing investigations and to call for full accountability for perpetrators. There can be no immunity for such despicable acts. The UN has a responsibility to do its utmost to react to and prevent violations wherever possible, but Member States have ultimate control over the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators. Rape and sexual violence against children are crimes in every legal system. I add my voice to the Secretary-General’s in calling for swift and strong actions by the Governments concerned to hold those responsible to account and ensure the response is commensurate with the gravity of the crimes.

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For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, +1-212-963-8285 (office), +1-917-288-5791 (mobile), tremblay@un.org