Centra African Republic: cameroonian peackeepers under MINUSCA investigation

In Central African Republic, confirmed allegations of corruption, illegal market trading in food and conflict minerals, and sexual assault by the Cameroonian contingent of MINUSCA forces in Nana-Bakassa region. Following the investigation report of Le Confident, Afronline’s media partner, speaking to Radio France Internationale, a MINUSCA spokesperson stated that they would open an investigation.

Sources have confirmed another scandal involving the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), known as MINUSCA. This time it is illegal trading in food, alcohol, conflict minerals and blood diamonds.

Originally flagged by deputy Roland Achille Bangué-Betangaye of the Nana-Bakassa region, in the north of CAR, reports confirm that the Cameroonian contingent of MINUSCA forces are engaging in illegal market trading of UN foodstuffs, also in Bangui, the capital.

“They have their own permanent marketplace on the street of residence of the ex-CAR president. They sell us food rations at a low price,” stated a local source to the national newspaper Le Confident, media partner of Afronline. Engaging in illegal trade of rations goes against the UN peacekeeping mandate under which MINUSCA forces operate. Present on the ground to bring peace and stability to the region, they are instead engaging in unfair economic competition with the people they are there to protect.

“There are many MINUSCA contingents and French troops of the Operation Sangaris that engage in illegal transactions in the different areas of CAR where they are based. They are selling primary materials, like salt, sugar and soap. Even water”, said the director of Le Confident, Momet Mathurin, speaking to Afronline.

MINUSCA forces are also the primary buyers of gold and diamonds in the country. In a bid to halt the trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ CAR was suspended from the Kimberley Process in 2013. According to Global Witness, “the country’s diamonds—targeted by both sides of the conflict—should no longer be reaching international markets following CAR’s suspension from the Kimberley Process. But evidence shows they are. An estimated 140, 000 carats of diamonds, worth US$24 million, have been smuggled out of the country since the suspension according a recent report by the UN Panel of Experts on CAR.”

This is not the first time the UN peacekeeping forces have been involved in scandals in CAR. Reports of sexual assault and human rights abuses involving peacekeepers date back to 2013. “They always say that they will open investigations, but there are never any results. We have cited the cases of sexual violence, and they always say ‘we will open investigations’, but we have never seen the results of the investigations. It isn’t normal,” continued Mathurin.

Following the investigation report of Le Confident, speaking on air to Radio France Internationale, the MINUSCA spokesperson stated that they were informed of the illegal trafficking in Nana-Bakassa region, and would open an investigation on Cameroonian UN peacekeepers into the now confirmed allegations.

By Kimberley Evans (Afronline.org)