The United Nations is sending a team of investigators to Ivory Coast next week to probe allegations of widespread sexual abuse committed by a Moroccan peacekeeping unit.
The U.N. suspended the activities of the contingent of more than 700 peacekeepers earlier this week, when allegations surfaced they abused and exploited under-aged girls. The Moroccans have been confined to their barracks in the northern city of Bouake, except for essential daytime duties.
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute says the world body will take swift action if the allegations are proven to be true. She stressed the U.N. has a zero tolerance policy against sexual abuse.
The world body has either repatriated or dismissed 197 international peacekeepers for sexual exploitation or abuse since 2004. At least 17 of those expelled served in the Ivory Coast mission.
About 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers, backed by troops from France, are deployed in the West African nation to prevent new fighting between the northern-based rebels and the southern-based government. The two sides signed a peace deal in March.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.