NEW YORK, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The United Nations will repatriate 108 Sri Lankan peacekeeping soldiers in Haiti, who are accused of sexual abuse of women and minor girls.
The soldiers, part of a of 950-member Sri Lankan battalion in Haiti, were to be sent home Saturday, the world body said in a statement. Among those being repatriated will be the battalion’s second-in-command and two company commanders.
The decision was taken after a preliminary report from the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, the statement said.
The investigation followed allegations which are “of a transactional sex nature,” said Michele Montas, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She said there was also “a question of some underage girls.”
Expressing the regrets of both the United Nations and Sri Lanka over the incident, Montas said both “take this matter very seriously and reiterate their shared commitment to both the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to best practices in peacekeeping.”
The abuses reportedly occurred in several locations in Haiti. Sri Lanka sent a team including a female officer to assist in the investigation.