Paris / AFP
France wants to end its military operation known as Sangaris in the Central African Republic (CAR) this year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday.
“The aim is to bring Operation Sangaris to a halt. I hope this is done during 2016, with small units remaining on CAR territory as was the case beforehand,” he told French media.
Le Drian’s statement came amid new allegations which surfaced Friday of child sexual abuse in the CAR involving UN peacekeepers as well as troops serving in a European mission and in France’s own operation.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein described the claims as “extremely serious” and demanded they be “thoroughly and urgently investigated”.
The new cases linking EU and French troops are said to date to 2014 but have only been discovered in recent weeks as a result of a UN investigation.
Le Drian also said he hoped that the EU would agree to train a CAR armed force when the bloc’s defence ministers hold informal talks on Feb 3 and 4 in Amsterdam.