Nepalese peacekeepers accused of child rape in South Sudan

Many peacekeepers from Nepal have been deployed in South Sudan. (AFP pic)

NEW YORK: UN peacekeepers from Nepal are facing allegations of child rape in South Sudan, the UN spokesman said on Monday, describing the case as “especially heinous.”

At the request of the United Nations, Nepal agreed to send a team of investigators to work with the UN office of internal oversight on the case.

“Any act of sexual abuse is horrendous,” said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. “One involving a child is especially heinous.”

The allegations were received on April 13 and involve Nepalese troops serving in the UN mission in South Sudan who allegedly raped two teenage girls, UN officials said. It remains unclear how many Nepalese soldiers are involved.

The United Nations has deployed 14,800 troops and police in South Sudan, with a mandate to protect civilians caught up in a brutal war between President Salva Kiir’s forces and rebels.

In February, 46 UN peacekeepers from Ghana were recalled from their base in northwestern South Sudan after the mission received allegations of sexual exploitation of women.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has vowed to toughen the UN response to allegations of misconduct against the blue helmets, whose mission is to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones.