Fresh sex abuse allegations have emerged in the Central African Republic (CAR) after three women, including a minor, claimed they were raped by UN troops.
The UN admitted the charges were "disturbing". Vannina Maestracci, a spokesperson for the international body, told reporters the alleged abuses took place in Bambari but did not specify the date.
"These new allegations concern a report that three young females were raped by three members of a Minusca [Multinational Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Central African Republic] military contingent," Maestracci said.
The new claims have pushed the number of sex abuse and exploitation cases in the conflict-ridden landlocked African nation to 13. The families of the victims reported the incidents only last week, added the UN official.
Maestracci added: "The troop-contributing country has been asked to indicate within 10 days if it intends to investigate the allegations itself. Should the member state decline to investigate or fail to respond, the United Nations [will] rapidly conduct its own investigation."
Though the nationalities of the soldiers have not been officially revealed, sources told Reuters news agency that the suspects are Congolese troops. According to UN regulations, the contributing nations are primarily responsible for legal action against the troops in case of abuse.
The news about the latest sex abuse has surfaced a week after Babacar Gaye, chief of the UN peacekeepers in the CAR, was sacked over earlier accusations.
"I believe the disturbing number of allegations we have seen in many countries -- but particularly in the Central African Republic in the period before UN peacekeepers were deployed and since -- speaks to the need to take action now. Enough is enough," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.