A leaked United Nations report accuses French soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic of sexually abusing children.
Six children interviewed by U.N. staff UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that French soldiers sodomized them and others. They said that food and water was also traded for sex.
“There are a few cases where a boy describes the sodomizing of a friend by soldiers who are threatening to beat him if he tells anyone about what they are doing,” Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World, told CNN on Friday.
“They say they came to help us, but they have actually hurt us. It’s not what we wanted,” a villager in the war-torn region told CNN.
The alleged sexual exploitation is said to have occurred at the M’Poko International Airport in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, between December 2013 and June 2014, the network reported.
The French military has said it has been investigating the claims for nine months.
“Obviously, if these facts were proven, as you know, they are totally against our values, the values held by the French army. Of course if these facts were proven, firm sanctions would be implemented against those responsible,” said Col. Gilles Jaron, adviser to the Army’s Joint Chief of Staff, CNN reported.
A U.N. staffer has been suspended with full pay as the organization conducts an investigation into the leaked report.