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UN suspends ties after CAR charity head identified as Belgian paedophile

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UN suspends ties after CAR charity head identified as Belgian paedophile

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Image caption The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has suspended its links with the Catholic development agency Caritas over the allegations

The UN has suspended work with Catholic charity Caritas in the Central African Republic (CAR) after it emerged that its country director was a convicted paedophile.

The UN's humanitarian agency said there were "serious allegations of abuse against minors" in CAR by the charity's former director, Belgian priest Father Luk Delft.

He has been removed from his post and is no longer in the CAR, Caritas says.

CAR officials are investigating.

Belgian and Catholic Church officials are also investigating.

A complaint for sexual abuse of a minor has been lodged against the priest, the public prosecutor in the CAR capital Bangui told AFP news agency.

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The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it had a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse.

OCHA told the BBC that those links would remain suspended until the ongoing investigations reached a clear outcome.

Delft was convicted in 2012 and given a suspended sentence for sex assaults going back to 2001, AFP reported. He was also banned for 10 years from any role that would bring him into contact with children and young people.

However he was sent to CAR in 2013 and took up a role with Caritas in 2015, according to the Dignity foundation, a body set up by the Catholic Church to fight abuse.

The priest worked for two years in Kaga Bandoro, a city in the north of the country, before being appointed as Caritas's national executive secretary in CAR, AFP said.

Caritas said it was "saddened and outraged" by the allegations of abuse and said it was working to improve its safeguarding policies towards children.

Skip Twitter post by @iamCARITAS

Caritas is saddened and outraged by the child abuse reported by @CNN on Luk Delft, a Belgian priest who was a previous national director of Caritas Central African Republic. We express our compassion and solidarity with the children and their families. https://t.co/spt3raBTJc

— Caritas (@iamCARITAS) November 21, 2019

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End of Twitter post by @iamCARITAS

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