Wagner group Mercenaries accused of raping newborn mother in maternity ward in Central African Republic
ABUJA, Nigeria — Russian mercenaries from the notoriously brutal Wagner Corporation, which some call Vladimir Putin’s “private army,” are accused of raping women admitted to the midwifery department at a hospital in the Central African Republic (CAR), military officials told The Daily Beast.
On the night of April 10, three Russian mercenaries belonging to the Wagner Group, also currently operating in Ukraine, are said to have staged attacks at a hospital in the Henri Izamo military camp in the capital, Bangui.
Officials stationed at CAR’s military headquarters, but keeping an eye on the activities of so-called Russian “military instructors”, told The Daily Beast that the men raped the women. – some of them have just given birth – are being treated. in the maternity ward of the hospital.
“[The military headquarters] received a report last month from [hospital] The center details how three Russian guides barged into the maternity ward and began sexually assaulting women upon admission,” one of the officials told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, because of him. Not allowed to speak to the press.
Many mercenaries operating in Africa under Wagner – a private military company run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of President Putin’s closest associates – have withdrawn to help fight the war in Africa. Ukraine is – as The Daily Beast first reported – but there is still a lot of activity on the continent.
“Among the victims, the military has been informed, there are two mothers who have just given birth and medical personnel on duty,” the official said, adding that the military “believes the report is true. “
Another official in CAR’s military headquarters with knowledge of Wagner mercenary activities in the resilient African nation told The Daily Beast that this is the third time the military has received reports of the incident. Russian mercenaries infiltrated the obstetrics ward of the infirmary and sexually assaulted women.
On all three occasions, investigators found the allegations “authentic”, according to the official, but taking action against the mercenaries was nearly impossible as officers were “fearing about their actions.” anger the Russians.”
A human rights campaigner who spoke to a victim of a previous rape at the Henri Izamo military camp told The Daily Beast that Russian mercenaries assaulted her while she was being investigated. Infirmary treatment last year arrived late at night, dragging her out. in her bed, and started raping her on the floor.
“She was so sick and asleep when the Russians arrived,” said Cédric Niamathé, a Bangui-based human rights activist who helps connect victims of many abuses with human rights lawyers. “All she can remember is opening her eyes and seeing a naked white soldier, who had covered her mouth with his hand over her head, raping her.”
Several publications in the area — citing eyewitnesses — have offered accounts of how the most recent incident occurred.
HumAngle, a news site focusing on West and Central Africa based in Nigeria, quoted a gendarmerie on duty that day as saying the Russians arrived in the hospital’s maternity ward “with pistols and whiskey in hand. ” and met two women. who had just given birth as well as several other female medical staff in the room.
“They started groping the women in an indecent way and gesturing for sex from two women who had just gone to bed,” the gendarmerie said. He also alleges that the Russians tried to rape the nurse on duty who confronted them saying the woman had just given birth and was still covered in blood. “She struggled to free herself [and] He ran to the labor room,” he recounted.
“While this was going on,” said the gendarmerie, “a nurse assistant who happened to be a cook-chef (Warranty Manager) and who was still on maternity leave tried to beg the Russians allowed to be human, but they rejected her and sexually abused her one after the other.”
Corbeau News Centrafrique, one of CAR’s most popular independent news outlets, spoke to a witness who reported that the sexual assault on the nurse lasted hours, with each mercenary take turns abusing her. News agencies also reported that one of the women who had just given birth said her ordeal was painful and humiliating.
Rape victims almost never get justice in CAR. Over four years ago, Human Rights Watch documented 305 cases of rape and sexual slavery against women and girls by members of armed groups between early 2013 and mid-2013. 2017. Of the 296 victims interviewed, only 11 of the 296 women interviewed said they had attempted to file a crime report. No members of armed groups have ever been arrested or tried for sexual violence, according to the organization. Instead, the number of victims continued to grow.
In 2020, the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System — a monitoring system maintained by humanitarian partners including UNFPA — recorded 2,281 cases of sexual violence. More than a third of those atrocities were committed by members of armed groups.
For the women reported to have been raped at the Henri Izamo military camp by Wagner mercenaries, it should come as no surprise if justice is not served. Even those who have the power to act or recommend that action be taken are not convinced that anyone should be punished.
A senior CAR military official told The Daily Beast: “Disciplining a Russian instructor who has committed a crime is not something the military can confidently act on. “Only the president can decide on how to deal with the Russians.”
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