“Serious allegations of abuse”

Shadow of a cross © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

The U.N. emergency relief agency Ocha has temporarily put its cooperation with the umbrella organization Caritas Internationalis in the Central African Republic on hold. The reason is abuse allegations against a Belgian priest.

The reason is "serious allegations of abuse" against the former country director, a Belgian priest, the British BBC reported Saturday. The UN said it was pursuing a zero-tolerance policy in matters of abuse. In its own statement, Caritas Internationalis expressed "our sympathy" to the victims of abuse and announced investigations.

Salesian priest sentenced in Belgium

According to the allegations, the cleric has sexually abused at least two children since being sent to Central Africa in 2013. Previously, the Salesian priest had been convicted of similar charges in Belgium. This had recently been made public by the US broadcaster CNN.

Caritas Internationalis expressed its "sadness and indignation" in the face of the accusations. "We thank those who have stepped forward". They have our full support in finding the truth," it said. The accused had been removed from his post. In addition, the organization announced police as well as internal church investigations. Internationally active and local employees will reportedly be subject to more extensive security screening in the future.

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Christina Cherry
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