Last monthís controversy over the
repatriation of a group of Sri Lankan soldiers deployed in Haiti
under UN Command for buying sexual services from sex workers
including some who might be underage wouldnít affect the future
deployment of units in the Caribbean Island.
Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara said that a 750-strong contingent, including 50
officers, would leave for Haiti over the coming weekend.
This would be the seventh contingent
to be deployed there since Sri Lanka first committed troops for
the overseas mission. The latest contingent would comprise
officers and men from the Sinha Regiment which had been on a
previous mission to Haiti. It would be commanded by Colonel
G.J.L. Waduge, the spokesman said.
Nanayakkara asserted that last monthís
repatriation of 110 personnel pending the finalisation of
investigations undertaken by the UN and the Government of Sri
Lanka would not affect the planned deployment. The repatriated
contingent included 99 men from the army, ten air forcemen and
one from the navy.
Fielding questions, he said a board
constituted on the orders of Army Chief Lt. General Sarath
Fonseka was in the process of investigating the conduct of the
repatriated personnel. "We havenít finalised our inquiries. We
are also waiting to receive a copy of the UN investigation
report," he said. On Sri Lankaís request, the UN has sent some
members of the mission deployed in Haiti to assist the local
Members of the repatriated contingent
vehemently denied the allegations. An officer who had been on
the Haiti mission told The Island that free condoms were issued
to soldiers deployed there and the UN was well aware of the
practice. Why on earth were condoms issued if they (UN) expected
the men to remain celibate. He also said that UN authorities
didnít conduct a proper investigation. "Among the repatriated
were some personnel who hadnít gone out of their bases," he
Deployment in Haiti is highly coveted by both
officers and men of the regular army as benefits are
substantial. Each soldier irrespective of his rank is paid USD
1028 (approximately Rs 128,000) a month. The Sri Lankan
contingent is 950 strong with 750 infantry, 100 from support
services and 50 each from the air force and navy.