Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hope in Haiti

The UN Security Council is extending its stabilization Mission in Haiti through mid-October 2008. The extension includes a reduction in military forces with an increase in police in order to adjust to changing circumstances in the country, where civil unrest is still a pressing issue, but gang violence has diminished greatly.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that the peacekeeping force’s military should enhance its capabilities in border control and engineering and mobility, while decreasing its infantry capabilities. The mission will be reducing its military force by 140 troops, while adding approximately 140 police officers. These efforts are aimed at gradually turning over the responsibility of law and order from the United Nations to the Haitian authorities themselves.

However, Mr. Ban warned that the possibility of civil unrest remains high in a society of such deep socio-economic divide. In addition Ban cautioned that, “the potential for renewed armed violence within the country remains considerable,” while the illicit drug trade continues to have a destabilizing effect on Haiti.

The success of security measures in Haiti, including the fight against gang violence has been successful, as 850 suspects have been apprehended since July. However, these captures have been costly, with six peacekeepers injured in counterattacks. The Council resolution “condemns any attack against personnel from MINUSTAH and demands that no acts of intimidation or violence be directed against United Nations and associated personnel or other international and humanitarian organizations engaged in humanitarian, development or peacekeeping work.”

Still, hope is high in Haiti. Hooray!