The damning United Nations report shown to the Guardian newspaper alleges that French soldiers deployed in Central African Republic (CAR) have been sexually abusing the very children they are supposed to be protecting.
The UN report entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless boys as young as nine, by French peacekeeping troops.
The troops were supposed to be protecting the children at a centre for internally displaced people in the country’s capital Bangui.
The report, stamped confidential on each page, was leaked to the Guardian newspaper and has led to the suspension of a senior UN aid worker, who is believed to be behind the leak.
The aid worker named Anders Kompass, a Swedish national based in Geneva, is believed to have initially passed the report on to French authorities because the UN had proved powerless to stop the ongoing abuse.
Kompass, who is registered at an address in Stockholm, has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years.
He was suspended from his post last week, according to The Guardian.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry's legal chief Anders Rönquist said in a written statement to Swedish broadcaster SVT that he was aware of Kompass' removal from his post, pending a UN inquiry.
But he added that it was "worrying" that evidence suggested his suspension was linked to him leaking information about child sex crimes.
"The UN must have zero tolerance for sexual abuse and act to make sure suspicions of such abuses are investigated," he said.
The Guardian was given its copy of the internal report by Paula Donovan, from the organisation Aids Free World.
Donovan is now demanding an independent inquiry into the abuse and the UN’s handling of the allegations.
“The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon,” Donovan told The Guardian.
France announced in March that it was reducing its troop numbers in the Central African Republic as it gradually hands over to a 8,500-strong UN peacekeeping force brought in to contain a deadly sectarian conflict.
The Local has requested France’s ministry of defence response to the allegations in the report and has contacted Kompass for comment.