The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has reported a new series of 'disturbing' allegations of sexual misconduct by the peacekeepers in the country.
The allegations follow a case reported by the human rights group Amnesty International on 11 August, which also accused MINUSCA peacekeepers, of abusing a minor and killings in the PK5 Muslim enclave of the capital Bangui.
MINUSCA deputy special representative and deputy head Diane Corner said: "These new allegations relate to a case where three young females, including one minor, were victims of rape by members of a MINUSCA military contingent.
"The Mission was informed of these allegations on August 12 2015 by the families of the three women."
The mission informed the UN Headquarters in New York, which in turn is said to have notified the UN Office of the Internal Oversight Services and the relevant troop-contributing country.
According to the standard procedure, the country in question must notify the organisation whether it plans to investigate these allegations itself within ten days.
Noting that the mission will make sure to preserve all available evidence related to the allegations Corner said: "If the country fails to open an investigation or does not respond to the request of UN Headquarters, the organisation will launch its own investigation."
While the organisation declined to disclose the nationality of the accused soldiers, sources told Agence-France Presse that they were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recently urged troop contributing nations to take swift action to appoint national investigation officers, conclude investigations and hold perpetrators accountable.
The Secretary-General also accepted the resignation of mission chief Babacar Gaye of Senegal, and vowed to strictly enforce 'zero tolerance' on sexual abuse by the UN peacekeepers in the African country.
Since its deployment in April 2014, MINUSCA is said to have investigated 57 cases of misconduct, including 11 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. The organisation is currently aiming to defuse sectarian tensions across the nation.
Image: MINUSCA peacekeepers on patrol in Bambari in the Central African Republic. Photo: courtesy of UN Photo / Catianne Tijerina.