Sri Lankan peacekeepers sent home over Haiti sex scandal

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 2, 2007 (AFP) – More than 110 Sri Lankan peacekeepers serving with the UN mission in Haiti are to be sent back home over charges that they paid for sex, the United Nations said Friday, in the latest such scandal to besmirch the world body. Most of the nearly 100,000 troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations around the world cannot be disciplined by the world body as they are answerable to troop-contributing countries, UN officials said.

The accused from Sri Lanka’s 950-strong contingent in the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) “will be repatriated on disciplinary grounds on Saturday,” UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement.

Nick Birnback, a spokesman for the UN department of peacekeeping operations (DPKO), said 111 soldiers and three officers would be sent home, updating an earlier figure of 108 given by Montas.

Montas said the action was ordered “following allegations of incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by members of MINUSTAH’s Sri Lankan Battalion stationed in a number of locations in Haiti.”

The decision was made after a preliminary report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and with the cooperation of Sri Lankan authorities.

Montas said MINUSTAH had requested the OIOS inve