The continued involvement of Sri Lankan troops in UN peacekeeping missions is an “endorsement that recognizes our professionalism at international level,” claimed the commander of Sri Lanka’s army this week.
Speaking to troops due to head to Mali as peacekeepers, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said it was to Sri Lanka’s “credit” that “more than 17000 Army peacekeepers, about 300 Military Observers and Staff Officers have to-date served foreign UN assignments world-wide with the purpose of restoring global peace”.
“In the future we would definitely be able to multiply our numbers in overseas assignments including Mali,” he added, declaring that “this international involvement is also an endorsement that recognizes our professionalism at international level”.
His remarks come 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.