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U.N. CAR Envoy Steps Down Amid Allegations of Abuse by Peacekeepers

Babacar Gaye's resignation comes on the heels of widespread reports of sexual abuse perpetrated by peacekeepers in the CAR.

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United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic have been accused of widespread sexual abuse and at times perpetrating acts of indiscriminate violence against the local population. It’s a scandal that has fueled a civil war within the U.N. bureaucracy, and on Wednesday that scandal claimed its first real scalp among the top leadership of the organization. Speaking to reporters, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced he had accepted the resignation of the world body’s special envoy to the CAR, Babacar Gaye, who also heads the peacekeeping mission there.

“I cannot put into words how anguished and angered and ashamed I am by recurrent reports over the years of reports of sex abuse and exploitation by U.N. forces,” Ban told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

Gaye’s resignation comes on the heels of an explosive report by Amnesty International alleging that U.N. peacekeepers in the CAR raped a young girl, and killed a young man and his father in a hail of gunfire. Gaye’s resignation may be more described as a firing: Ban said he had asked for the envoy to turn in his resignation papers.  

As Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch has reported, the U.N. response to reports of widespread abuse by troopers in the CAR has become the focus of a bureaucratic civil war between Anders Kompass, a U.N. human rights official, and the world body’s top leadership. After leaking a confidential U.N. report detailing allegations of sexual abuse by French forces to criminal investigators in Paris, Kompass found himself the target of an investigation seeking to discover the source of the leak.

Kompass likely broke U.N. regulations in passing on the report, but his supporters argue that he was acting in good faith to ensure accountability for soldiers alleged to have given food to desperate citizens of the CAR in return for sexual favors.

Wednesday’s announcement that Gaye is stepping down, then, is a rare bit of accountability for a peacekeeping mission that has been dogged by allegations of abuse.

Photo credit: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering cyberspace, its conflicts, and controversies. @eliasgroll

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