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UN Security Council Mission Arrives in Haiti


A delegation from the UN Security Council arrived in Haiti Wednesday to examine the situation in the troubled Caribbean nation.

Representatives from 10 of the 15 member countries on the UN Security Council are in Haiti to evaluate the progress of the UN security forces there. The head of the mission, Ronaldo Sardenberg, Brazil's ambassador to the United Nations and the president of the Security Council, says its goal is to show UN support for Haiti's interim government. Mr. Sardenberg said the visit also shows that the international community is following closely the security situation in Haiti.

During its four-day visit, the Security Council delegation will, among other things, re-evaluate the mandate of the UN security forces in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.

Mr. Sardenberg said it is possible that the UN mission will be extended, to provide increased security during elections in November.

The UN forces have been criticized by some Haitians for failing to stop the violence in the country.

In the capital, Port-au-Prince, more than 400 people have been killed since late September in gunfights between supporters and opponents of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Businesses in the downtown area of the capital have closed, and kidnappings for ransom are on the rise. In March, two U.N. soldiers were killed during security operations.

Despite the rise in violence, U.N. officials say they have a "profound conviction" that the U.N. mission is succeeding. U.N. soldiers and police have been increasingly aggressive in disarming and demobilizing armed groups. In the last month, U.N. forces have assisted national police in at least two major security missions in gang-controlled slum areas. Mr. Sardenberg says the U.N. forces are making Haiti safer.

"The first objective of this mission is help [create] an environment which is safe and stable, and MINUSTAH is more and more involved in that process. We noticed that MINUSTAH is doing more and more, and that despite some incidents in the last two weeks, the fact that there is a trend towards
stabilization is quite clear in my mind."

The UN is calling on all political parties which participate in the national elections to renounce violence so that the democratic process can function.

Mr. Sardenberg says that Haitians also have a responsibility in assuring the security of their country's future.

"Haiti is a sovereign country. The first obligation is for the government and the people of Haiti to get hold of this situation that they will work towards assuming their responsibilities and voting in elections that must be free, transparent and credible," he added.

The United Nations has more than 7,000 troops in Haiti, most of them from Latin American countries. The troops were sent after a violent uprising led to the ouster of former President Aristide in February of last year.

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