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UN Mission Probes 17th Sex Abuse Claim in CAR

Police officers from the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in an armored vehicle patrol a market in Bangui's Combattant district, Sept. 14, 2015.

A civilian member of the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic has been accused of sexual misconduct — the 17th such allegation in the past 17 months involving peacekeepers and local victims as young as age 11.

The U.N. mission, known as MINUSCA, said Tuesday that the latest accusation centered on an incident that occurred Saturday.

A statement condemned "any instance of sexual exploitation" by peacekeepers. But it offered few other details and did not disclose the nationality of the alleged offender. It said local authorities had been informed that U.N. investigators were conducting an internal probe.

The U.N. mission in the C.A.R. assumed control of peacekeeping duties from an African Union force in April 2014. Member states are solely responsible for prosecuting their troops participating in the mission, while the world body is limited to repatriating accused perpetrators.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month fired his top envoy to the C.A.R., longtime Senegalese diplomat and military officer Babacar Gaye.

Despite praising Gaye's service, Ban called sexual abuse and exploitation a "global scourge and a systemic challenge." He also said he wanted "to be clear that this problem goes far beyond one mission."

Tuesday's U.N. statement also voiced alarm at the Bangui government's eviction of 114 people Saturday from a refugee displacement site in the capital.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Aurelien Agbenonci said he remained concerned that the evictions could trigger a wave of forced movements targeting 2,700 internally displaced refugees currently under the threat of eviction from overcrowded camps nearby.

U.N. officials say 368,000 people have been internally displaced since mostly Muslim rebels overthrew the government of President Francois Bozize in early 2013.