The United Nations is investigating allegations of sexual abuse and exploitations by Peacekeepers residing in Ivory Coast. Presently, Moroccan UN troops in Bouake have been confined to their base and have been banned from conducting routine peacekeeping activities. The allegations in the Ivory Coast were uncovered by internal inquiry, and the UN is currently conducting a full investigation. While the exact nature of the offense is undisclosed, troops are alleged to have had sex with underage girls.
In the past, sexual abuse scandals had provoked ex UN chief Kofi Annan’s “zero tolerance” policy to punish “utterly immoral” crimes. In 2003, six Nepalese troops in DR Congo were found guilty of sexual abuse. Moreover, in 2004, two peacekeepers repatriated after accusations of abuse in Barundi. In 2006, UN personnel were accused of rape and sexual abuse in Sudan. Then in 2006, UN personnel were accused of rape and sexual assault in Haiti, and Liberia. In total, over 300 members of UN peacekeeping missions worldwide have been investigated for sexual exploitation since 2004.
The existing suspension in Ivory Coast “complies with the United Nations zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse.” In New York, UN Department of Field Support personnel and Moroccan officials are analyzing the current situation. The suspected Moroccan UN peacekeepers will be “held accountable to the highest standards of behavior” according to UN spokesperson, Marie Okabe.
For more information, please see:
AP – UN investigates peacekeepers in Ivory Coast – 23 July 2007
BBC – UN Probes Abuse in Ivory Coast – 23 July 2007
UN News Centre – Côte d’Ivoire: UN, Moroccan Officials Meet to Address Allegations of Sexual Abuse – 23 July 2007