United States Applauds Extension of U.N. Mission in Haiti
Washington -- The United States has applauded a unanimous decision by the U.N. Security Council to extend the world body's stabilization mission in Haiti for another eight months, to October 15, with the intention to renew for further periods. Brian Nichols, director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Caribbean Affairs, told USINFO February 20 that the decision to extend the U.N. mission, known by the French acronym MINUSTAH, "demonstrates the international community's resolve to provide the Haitian people with the security and stability that will allow them to strengthen their democracy and let international assistance take root."
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington -- The United States has applauded a unanimous decision by the U.N. Security Council to extend the world body’s stabilization mission in Haiti for another eight months, to October 15, with the intention to renew for further periods.
Brian Nichols, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Caribbean Affairs, told USINFO February 20 that the decision to extend the U.N. mission, known by the French acronym MINUSTAH, “demonstrates the international community's resolve to provide the Haitian people with the security and stability that will allow them to strengthen their democracy and let international assistance take root."
Another U.S. official, Alejandro Wolff, Washington’s acting representative to the United Nations, said in a statement supplied to USINFO that the resolution sends "an important signal of the determination of the international community" to support MINUSTAH.
“This is good news," Wolff said, noting that all previous extensions for the MINUSTAH had been for six months and that this was the lengthiest extension for the mission.
In a resolution adopted unanimously February 15, Security Council members agreed to extend the U.S.-backed force -- comprising almost 8,400 troops and police -- to help establish stability in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The United States maintains a small military contingent in Haiti as part of MINUSTAH, which was created by a Security Council resolution on April 30, 2004. The mission’s original mandate was to remain in Haiti for a six-month period. It has been extended several times since its initial approval.
R. Nicholas Burns, U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, said February 1 that the United States was providing a $20 million grant to the Haitian government to aid one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods, Cité Soleil, where gang-related violence runs rampant. ( See related article ).
As the largest single-country donor to Haiti, the United States has delivered more than $640 million in assistance to Haiti since 2004.
Robert Maguire, director of the Haiti program at Trinity University in Washington, told USINFO February 20 that while “there are some voices in Haiti that are speaking out against the MINUSTAH extension, I would not support those voices at all. I believe the majority of Haitians would support the mission, particularly since it is helping the country to move forward and gain more stability after the past six years of real instability.”
Maguire said that while the “obstacles are enormous” for achieving that stability and MINUSTAH is challenged by those obstacles, “without MINUSTAH, Haiti could possibly descend into another round of chaos and violence.”
Although the “track record” for MINUSTAH has been “mixed,” said Maguire, he added that the mission has done a “very solid job” in “view of the resources available to the mission and the environment in which it finds itself” in the country.
Maguire said he welcomed MINUSTAH’s attempt to shift its emphasis “a little more away from peacekeeping” operations and toward backing up the Haitian police to stabilize neighborhoods where gangs have been terrorizing local residents. Maguire indicated that an international civilian police monitoring component in Haiti ( known as CIVPOL ) is helping to rebuild and train Haiti’s police force.
UNITED NATIONS, ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES WEIGH IN
The Security Council resolution authorizing the MINUSTAH extension specifically requests that the U.N. mission continue “the increased tempo of operations in support” of the Haitian national police “against armed gangs as deemed necessary to restore security,” especially in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince.
The United Nations said violence is most acute in the Port-au-Prince slums of Cité Soleil and Martissant, where some armed gangs have been operating for years, long before MINUSTAH arrived in Haiti in 2004.
José Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States ( OAS ), said in a February 12 statement that Haiti has a “stable, democratic government, with plans and projects in the works, which is energetically confronting the problem of security.”
Insulza, who made his statement in Lima, Peru, during a meeting of the nine Latin American nations in MINUSTAH, said a major challenge for Haiti and for the international community supporting the Caribbean nation is to stop the violence, “thus stimulating investment that will help generate” employment in the country.
The full text of the Security Council resolution on Haiti is available on the U.N. Web site.
A press release on Insulza’s remarks is available on the OAS Web site.
More information on MINUSTAH is available on the mission’s Web site.
For additional information on U.S. policy, see The Caribbean.
( USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov )
This story was released on 2007-02-21. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.