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UN probes alleged "widespread" sexual abuse in Cote d'Ivoire
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09:53, July 21, 2007

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The United Nations has launched investigations into allegations of "widespread sexual exploitation and abuse" by a UN contingent serving in Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire, the world body announced Friday.

Due to the serious nature of the allegations, the UN said in a statement, all activities of the contingent have been suspended and the soldiers have been confined to their base.

The allegations resulted from an internal investigation by the United Nations Mission in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), the statement said.

"The United Nations reiterates Zero Tolerance policy toward sexual exploitation and abuse and stresses its determination to work with our troop and police contributing countries to ensure that all UN personnel are held accountable to the highest standards of behavior," the statement said.

Bouake is a rebel stronghold in northern Cote d'Ivoire. Peacekeeping troops from Bangladesh, Ghana, Morocco and Pakistan are reportedly based there.

On Monday, the UN Security Council extended the mandates of the UNOCI and of the French forces that support it until January 1 next year.

The UN mission and the French forces backing it, whose mandates expired on Monday, will "support the organization in Cote d'Ivoire of free, fair and transparent elections," the 15-member council said in a resolution.

The resolution requested UNOCI to "support the full implementation" of the Ouagadougou political agreement," which was signed last March by Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader, and President Laurent Gbagbo, to reunite the country and pave way for elections aimed at re-establishing lasting peace in the country.

Source: Xinhua

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