The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) is looking into recent allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving its peacekeepers based in the west of the country.
“If these allegations are founded, it would be the responsibility of the countries from which these peacekeepers come to take appropriate action against those involved,” the mission said in a news release issued in the commercial capital of Abidjan, where it is headquartered.
After receiving the allegations two weeks ago, the mission immediately informed the relevant offices at UN Headquarters in New York so that the troop-contributing countries concerned – which were not named publicly given the ongoing nature of the investigation – could be informed.
It also informed the Ivorian authorities, as well as deployed officials to the region concerned to assess the situation, with the support of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children.
“Preventive actions recommended by the mission are being implemented, with a stepped-up sensitization campaign,” said UNOCI, which expressed its deepest regrets to the potential victims and reaffirmed its commitment to implementing UN’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
UNOCI was established in 2004 by the Security Council to facilitate the peace process in the country, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.
In July the Council extended the mission’s mandate for another year so that it can continue to assist with critical tasks in the wake of the recent post-electoral crisis, including the restoration of law and order, national reconciliation, the holding of legislative elections, and economic recovery.