Source:Afrique en Ligne/ PANA
The UN Thursday barred 16 peacekeepers from Republic of Benin from serving in UN peacekeeping operations, following their involvement in sex abuse in Cote d’Ivoire.
UN Deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York that in January 2011, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) provided its report on the joint investigation finding into the incident.
He said the UN Department for Field Support (DFS) reviewed the findings and recommendations contained in the OIOS report and, in April 2011, requested the Beninese authorities to take disciplinary action against six identified individual soldiers.
Del Buey said the UN also recommended that disciplinary action be taken against 10 successive former commanders and senior officers for failure to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.
He also said DFS further informed the Beninese authorities that all individuals identified have been repatriated on disciplinary grounds and would also be barred from participating in future
The spokesperson, however, did not confirm whether the Beninese authorities followed through on the UN request.
The report of the allegation was first published by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks, citing a US Embassy cable released in January 2010.
According to the cable, a random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu, a western town in Cote d’Ivoire, by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that they performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure food.
Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in recent years had been a major source of concern.
In April this year, a report by UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and DFS found that sexual abuse within UN Peacekeeping Operations seem to be on the decline.
According to figures released in the report during the first quarter of 2011, DPKO reported a total of 15 allegations, four of which concerned minors.
In comparison, during the same period last year, there were 24 allegations, 10 of which involved minors.