Following claims of sexual assault of five children, the United Nations has returned all 450 Gabonese troops from its peacekeeping deployment in the Central African Republic and launched an inquiry, the UN announced on Wednesday.
The claims were made against anonymous Gabonese forces serving in the country’s center, according to MINUSCA.
Gabon’s Defense Ministry has also launched an investigation.
“If the charges are found to be accurate, the perpetrators will be brought before a tribunal and judged with zeal,” the ministry added.
The Central African Republic, which is wealthy in diamonds, timber, and gold, has struggled to restore stability since former President Paul Biya was deposed in a 2013 coup.
Violence has flared since a December election saw President Faustin-Archange Touadera win another term, an outcome disputed by a coalition of militias.
Allegations of sexual abuse have dogged the UN mission over the years.
MINUSCA’s former head, Babacar Gaye, resigned in 2015 amid sexual abuse allegations against peacekeepers, fresh cases of which emerged in 2016.
Central African Republic is not alone. In Democratic Republic of Congo, dozens of similar allegations were made in 2017.