Friday, October 10, 2008
The U.N. in Haiti...2008
UN Force in Haiti Likely to be Renewed
by JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N Security Council will likely keep peacekeeping
troops in Haiti for another year, but will not heed Haitians' calls to shift
their focus to economic development in the storm-ravaged nation, the chief U.N.
envoy to the country said Wednesday.
The council held talks on renewing the Brazilian-led force. A vote is expected
on Oct. 14, the day before its current one-year mandate expires.
A draft resolution circulated Wednesday would extend the mandate while keeping
the number of troops at 7,060 and police at 2,091. It also lends support for a
high-level donor conference for Haiti and "strongly condemns the grave
violations against children affected by armed violence, as well as widespread
rape and other sexual abuse of girls."
U.N. Special Representative Hedi Annabi, who heads the four-year-old mission,
told the council that though Haiti was seriously set back by riots over soaring
food prices and devastating hurricanes this year, he was convinced Haiti can
overcome its problems with help.
While Haitian President Rene Preval has called on the force for more than two
years to provide long-term assistance with "fewer tanks and more tractors,"
Annabi said he would not request a shift to development work this year because
it is not the council's mission.
"I'm not going to ask for something that will never happen," Annabi told The
Associated Press as he entered the council chamber.
"We try on the margins of the mandate to do what we can, to do simple things
for people to meet emergency needs ... but we don't have a development mandate
and never will," Annabi said.
The force has been in place since the chaos following a 2004 rebellion and the
ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has provided the only real
security in Haiti ever since, fighting gangs, cracking down on kidnappers and
helping develop local police.
When riots sparked by high food prices and capitalized on by Preval's opponents
broke out in April, blue-helmeted soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to
keep protesters from storming the presidential palace.
At least six Haitians and a U.N. police officer from Nigeria were killed in the
week of violence.
While the peacekeeping force costs $575 million this year, the U.N. has had a
harder time finding development money.
Just 16 percent of its $108 million appeal has been funded after four storms
left at least 793 dead and thousands homeless, the U.N. Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Bridges have fallen and roads are flooded, making it impossible for many to
reach their fields or markets, but no money has been received for economic
recovery or infrastructure projects under the appeal.
Meanwhile, food prices continue to rise after 60 percent of the year's harvest
was wiped out.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.