Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced the sexual exploitation of more than a dozen local women and girls by Ugandan troops deployed in eastern Central African Republic (CAR) to fight rebels.
“Ugandan soldiers … have sexually exploited at least 13 women and (three) girls since 2015, including at least one rape, and threatened some victims to remain silent,” the rights group said in a report on Monday.
The report said that 15 of the women and girls interviewed had become pregnant and in each case the soldier who fathered the child had left the country without providing any support.
“Ugandan and African Union authorities should conduct proper investigations, punish those responsible, and make sure that the women and girls who were sexually abused or exploited get the services they need,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at HRW.
The New-York based organization further noted that the victims hailed from the southeastern town of Obo, which has served as a base for Ugandan forces since 2009. The report said more cases of sexual violence had been documented in the area; however, Obo women were afraid to testify and recount details.
The Defense Ministry in Kampala did not respond to the allegations, according to HRW.
In a statement in April, Ugandan forces officially announced that they would withdraw from CAR, where they were deployed in 2009 as part of an African Union force hunting the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.
The LRA revolted against northern Uganda’s government in the late 1980s and has been accused of the abduction of children and using them as sex slaves and fighters.
After earning a reputation for carrying out bloody massacres and mutilating victims, the LRA left Uganda some ten years ago and has ever since eluded capture and defeat as it roams across parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and CAR.
The LRA is responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people and more than 60,000 child kidnappings during a 30-year-long campaign in five Central African countries.