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Congo peacekeepers exit CAR mission after sex abuse charges

By Ed Adamczyk
A blue-helmeted member of MINUSCA, a United Nations coalition force, patrols Bangui, Central African Republic. A U.N. statement Wednesday said that 600 coalition members from Democratic Republic of Congo will withdraw from CAR. It cited accusations of sexual abuse by Congolese troops. File Photo by Sandis Sveicers / Shutterstock.com
A blue-helmeted member of MINUSCA, a United Nations coalition force, patrols Bangui, Central African Republic. A U.N. statement Wednesday said that 600 coalition members from Democratic Republic of Congo will withdraw from CAR. It cited accusations of sexual abuse by Congolese troops. File Photo by Sandis Sveicers / Shutterstock.com

June 22 (UPI) -- Congolese soldiers serving as peacekeepers will leave the Central African Republic following sexual abuse allegations, the United Nations announced.

The 600 soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo are part of the United Nations' Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, or MINUSCA, a 13,000-person deployment to the CAR. The U.N. sent the peacekeepers in 2014 after Muslim rebels removed President Francoise Bozize from office, prompting a counterattack from Christian militias.

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Thousands died in the violence, with many more escaping to neighboring countries.

The withdrawal of Congolese troops comes after numerous accusations that they engaged in sexual abuse, including abuse and exploitation of children. A U.N. statement Wednesday announcing the withdrawal said a review of the issue blamed command problems.

"The review of the deployment of uniformed military personnel from the Republic of Congo found that 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. The outcome of the review has been shared with the authorities of the Republic of Congo, who have decided to withdraw their military personnel deployed in MINUSCA," the statement read in part.

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French troops in the coalition have also been accused of sexual abuse. Charges against six French soldiers were dropped several months ago, but another investigation continues.

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