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Sri Lankan troops leave on peacekeeping mission to Mali

Sri Lankan soldiers have embarked on a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Mali this week, despite concern over their role in the sexual abuse of minors on a previous mission.

The Sri Lankan military declared that 150 troops from 10 regiments of the army had left this week to join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

A further 50 Sri Lankan soldiers will also join.

The departure comes after the commander of Sri Lanka’s army claimed their involvement in peacekeeping missions was an “endorsement that recognizes our professionalism at international level”.

His remarks came as a lawsuit was filed in Haiti against the UN and peacekeeping soldiers, including Sri Lankan troops,  by mothers of 'peacekeeper babies' seeking child support and paternity payments. At least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeeping forces are reported to have exploited children in a sex ring in the country, during a UN mission from 2004 to 2007.

The United Nations and the United States have previously stressed the need for accountability for sexual violence committed by Sri Lankan peacekeepers, but Sri Lanka continues to participate in missions.