UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti packs up for withdrawal

By REUTERS
April 21, 2017 04:19
1 minute read.
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The head of the United Nations peace-keeping mission to Haiti said on Thursday (April 20) that the essential bases had been established in order to reinforce local state institutions, as the so-called Blue Helmets prepare to pull out of the Caribbean country ending a 13-year mission.

Sandra Honore paid tribute to UN soldiers from throughout the world at Cap-Haitien, saying that the mission, together with the national police, had led to the delivery of organized, free elections in 2016 and 2017, and that it had managed to consolidate the country's stabilization.

Honore noted elections had been held in eight of the mission's 13-year history, and that current President Jovenel Moise and Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant had given signs of programs for future reforms.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously one week ago to end the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, one of the longest-running in the world, known by the French acronym MINUSTAH. It will be replaced by a two-year mission focused on supporting the government to maintain the rule of law, human rights and stability, Honore announced on a visit to Port-au-Prince earlier in the week.

The resolution calls for more than 2,300 blue-helmeted personnel to gradually depart while 1,275 UN police remain for an initial period of six months. The new mission will be established from October 16, 2017 to April 15, 2018, and is projected to exit two years after its establishment.

The shutdown of the $346-million-US-dollar mission, recommended by UN chief Antonio Guterres, comes as the United States looks to cut its funding of UN peacekeeping. The Security Council also acknowledged the completion of Haiti's presidential elections and the inauguration of its new president as a "major milestone towards stabilization".

The mission has been dogged by controversies, including sexual abuse claims and the introduction of cholera to the island, for which the international body does not recognize legal responsibility.

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