The Central African Republic (CAR) says it will take legal action against the French soldiers who have been accused of sexually abusing children in exchange for food at a refugee camp in the country last week. The CAR’s Justice Minister Aristide Sokambi made the announcement on Wednesday. “Legal action will be pursued... These are still very serious acts,” Sokambi said. Last week, a report titled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces leaked by advocacy group Aids Free World suggested that 14 French soldiers serving in the African country as part of a peacekeeping force there had sexually abused a number of children, some as young as nine, in exchange for food between December 2013 and June 2014.
Following the accusations, France said it would carry out an investigation into the allegations. The CAR justice minister expressed regret that Paris had left the African country out of the investigations, adding that the public prosecutor would open an investigation and seek evidence already at the disposal of the French government.This comes as many people living at Bangui’s M’Poko airport, which has been used as a camp, have been experiencing widespread hunger as many have had their livelihoods destroyed in the country’s unrest.More than 1,000 people have been killed in the CAR since December 2013, when Christian militia launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group, which toppled the government in March 2013.
French soldiers were sent to CAR to help African Union peacekeepers restore order following the outbreak of the sectarian violence.The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) says nearly one million people have been displaced in the CAR since the outbreak of the violence.