KATHMANDU, April 25: Nepal Army (NA) has formed a Board of Inquiry to investigate into the alleged involvement of NA peacekeepers serving in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan in child rapes.
Although the allegations against NA soldiers were received on April 13, it remains yet to be independently verified if any members of the Nepali troops were actually involved in the act that UN Spokesperson described as "especially heinous".
According to NA Spokesperson Gokul Bhandari, investigations are currently underway into the incident that occurred on April 13. "At the request of the United Nations, we have formed a four-member board of inquiry, which will establish the fact concerning the incident," he said.
Bhandari said although the incident has been reported it has yet to be independently verified if Nepalese soldiers are involved in the incident. Preliminary investigation have reportedly found that two teenage girls, with one aged 15 and another 16, were raped by the members of peacekeeping troops deputed there.
"Any act of sexual abuse is horrendous," international media quoted Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as saying. "One involving a child is especially heinous."
The UN has deployed some 14,800 troops and police in South Sudan, with a mandate to protect civilians caught up in a brutal war between the forces of the president, Salva Kiir, and rebels, according to Guardian.
Earlier in February, 46 UN peacekeepers from Ghana were recalled from their base in north-western South Sudan after the mission received allegations of sexual exploitation of women.
Amid repeated instances of such cases, UN Secretary-General Guterres has vowed to toughen the UN response to allegations of misconduct against the peacekeepers who are supposed to protect vulnerable civilians in the conflict zones.