UN peacekeepers food for sex claim

Abidjan - A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation to exchange sex for food.

The United States Embassy cable written in January 2010 focuses on the behaviour of peacekeepers from Benin stationed in the western town of Toulepleu.

The cable says that a random poll of under age girls in Toulepleu in 2009 found that eight out of 10 had sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging.

When asked about the cable this week, United Nations spokesperson Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed that in April, 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the UN following a yearlong investigation.

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