The DRC has decided to withdraw 630 soldiers to the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR following sexual abuse allegations. Picture: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Johannesburg – The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has decided to withdraw its troop contribution of 630 soldiers to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) following sexual abuse allegations and a review which also found problems relating to command and control.

The UN reported in its database of sexual abuse and exploitation accusations that Congolese troops in the CAR were involved in nine such incidents in 2016 and three this year alone.

"The review of the deployment of uniformed military personnel from the Republic of Congo found that the nature and extent of existing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, in their totality, point to systemic problems in command and control," the UN said in a statement.

"These problems have also been compounded by issues related to the preparedness, overall discipline, maintenance of contingent owned equipment, and logistical capacity of these troops," it said.

The UN shared this information with Kinshasa which then decided to withdraw its military personnel.

The UN Mission to the Congo has 13 000 personnel there who together are attempting to contain the violence which has wracked the country for years as ethnic and religious groups vie for the country’s diamond resources.

However, despite the withdrawal of its UN troops, Congo’s 140 police officers are to remain as part of the UN peacekeeping contingent as the behaviour of the military personnel has not reflected the performance of the police.

The problems with the Congolese troops comes in the wake of a report several days ago of the death of more than 3 300 people killed in violence in the DRC’s Kasai region since last October, according to the country’s Catholic Church.

The BBC reported that the deaths were the result of clashes between the army and a rebel group, but that civilians had also been caught up in the violence.

“According to the Church, 20 villages had been completely destroyed, half of them by government troops,” said the BBC.

The UN meanwhile reported the discovery of more than 20 mass graves but has put the death toll so far at about 400.

UN human rights chief, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said investigators in Kasai province had identified dozens of mass graves along with harrowing evidence of people being shot, burned or hacked to death.

The UN added that it was in possession of evidence showing that hundreds of villagers from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups had been killed.

Atrocities were being carried out by the security forces and a government-backed militia, known as the Bana Mura, which was set up to help fight a rival group known as the Kamuina Nsapu.

African News Agency