UN withdraws Gabon peacekeepers in Central African Republic

LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — The United Nations is withdrawing 450 Gabonese peacekeepers from its mission in Central African Republic following allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, Gabon’s government said Wednesday.

“Following the numerous cases of allegations of exploitation and sexual abuse being processed, the United Nations today decided to withdraw the Gabonese contingent from MINUSCA,” the statement said, referring to the mission there.

Gabon’s defense ministry said it has opened an investigation into the allegations.

“If they are proven, their perpetrators will be brought before military courts and tried with extreme rigor,” Gabon’s defense ministry warned.

The U.N mission in Central African Republic was deployed in 2014 to end insecurity stemming from inter-religious and inter-communal fighting that erupted in 2013. The mission still has more than 10,000 personnel in the country.

The U.N. mission there has faced allegations of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers from other countries in the past as well.

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