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UN to Probe Handling of Child Sex Abuse Allegations in CAR

FILE - Soldiers of the European Union Force RCA (EUFOR RCA) patrol in Bangui, CAR, January 19, 2015.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced an independent panel to investigate the U.N.'s handling of reports of child sex abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic.

A statement from Ban's office Wednesday said the secretary wants to ensure the U.N. does not fail the victims of sex abuse, especially when the abuse was committed by those who were meant to protect them.

Ban earlier said he is deeply disturbed by what allegedly happened in C.A.R. and the number of issues related to how the U.N. system handled the reports.

Britain's Guardian newspaper first reported the story of sex abuse in April. It cited a leaked U.N. investigation alleging that 14 French soldiers were involved.

According to witnesses, hungry children who approached French soldiers guarding a refugee camp were given food and water in exchange for sex.

France sent troops to C.A.R., a former French colony, in 2013 to restore calm after Islamic rebels seized the capital, sparking violence between Muslims and Christians.

French President Francois Hollande has said he "will show no mercy" to any French soldier guilty of sexually abusing children.

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