UN probes Ivory Coast abuse
Peacekeepers face allegations of having sex with a large number of underage girls.
Announcing the battalion’s suspension, Hamadoun Toure, a spokesman for the UN mission in Ivory Coast, said: “It means they don’t participate in our operations.”
“Those who are found guilty will be sent back home,” he said.
The Ivory Coast mission numbers just over 9,000 uniformed personnel from more than 40 countries. Moroccans make up the bulk of the force in Bouake, with some Bangladesh police, Pakistani engineers and Ghanaian medical personnel.
The peacekeepers, backed by troops from France, the country’s former colonial ruler, are in Ivory Coast to support a peace agreement between Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivorian president, and Guillaume Soro, a resistance leader.
In recent years, the UN has been struck by a string of allegations of sexual violations by its forces around the world.
UN officials have said that more than 300 members of UN peacekeeping missions around the world have been investigated for sexual exploitation and abuse over the past three years, including in Cambodia and Haiti.
The body’s operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo have also seen a number of allegations recently, despite a “zero-tolerance” policy.
A 2005 UN report said soldiers should be punished for any sexual abuse, their pay docked and a fund set up to assist any women and girls they impregnated. But member nations have not agreed to this.