Secretary-General seeks to bolster UN in Haiti

(United Nations) April 27, 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the Security Council to endorse a rapid strengthening of the technical capacity of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to enable it provide better support to recovery efforts following January’s earthquake in the Caribbean island nation.

In his report to the Council, the Secretary-General noted that much of the required “surge” can be achieved by scaling up activities within the current mandate, while a few areas of the mission should provide greater technical, operational and logistical assistance to Haiti’s Government and State institutions.

“Whereas before the earthquake, the mission was entering a period of consolidation, a surge effort is now needed for the next 18 months to two years, in which the mission will help the Government preserve the gains of stabilization to date and enable a smooth transition to long-term reconstruction,” Mr. Ban said.

Mr. Ban recommended no change in the current strength of MINUSTAH’s military component, which, as of 13 April is made up of 120 staff officers and 8,186 troops, comprising 13 infantry and nine enabling units, including four engineering companies.

He, however, requested the Council to authorize an expansion of the mission’s police force to help the Haitian national police force re-establish a visible presence to protect people living in displaced persons’ settlements after losing their homes to earthquake, and to create an atmosphere conducive to free and fair elections.

The Secretary-General recommended an increase of MINUSTAH’s police personnel to 680, representing 200 UN police and three self-sustaining formed police units, saying the additional officers could be deployed before the end of the year, in time for the envisaged elections.

He said the elections in early 2011 are central to the Government’s vision for a renewed State. That vision must be supported by the international community, the Secretary-General added.

“Recognizing the urgent protection situation, the mission will scale up its protection and human rights monitoring and advocacy, in particular to address sexual and gender-based violence, and other civil, political and economic, social and cultural rights concerns, in coordination with humanitarian actors,” Mr. Ban said in the report.

The Secretary-General thanked the international community for its generosity towards Haiti following the earthquake, but expressed concern about the risks the country still faces in the coming months, especially during the upcoming rainy and hurricane seasons.

“As we support post-earthquake recovery, we must seek remedies to help Haiti address historic social and economic problems,” Mr. Ban said. “It will also be critical to ensure that the coming influx of international aid mitigates, and does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity that long fuelled instability in Haiti,” he added.

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