As UN nears full troop strength in Haiti, lull in violence is reported

23 December 2004

Violence-wracked Haiti, which was plunged into political turmoil earlier this year and then further destabilized by natural disasters, has seen a lull in the violence in recent days, while the United Nations mission in the country (MINUSTAH) is nearly up to full military capacity.

Clashes flared earlier this month between the Haitian National Police and elements from both sides of the country' political spectrum: former members of the army which was disbanded by the ex-President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who departed amid political turmoil in February, and gangs loyal to him.

MINUSTAH spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona told the UN News Service that there have been no reports of violence over the past two days. He noted that UN civilian police are working with the Haitian National Police - in some cases co-located within their precincts - to foster a safe and normal environment, while the UN military presence is having a "dissuasive" effect on would-be troublemakers.

Mr. Onses-Cardona said there had been a "massive" improvement over the past few months. "After 15 October, when really the situation in Gonaïves, which was struck by floods, was calming down, we started to get the number of troops we needed to manage an effective response," he said.

At the same time, he cautioned against complacency. "It is essential that the international community make good on pledges made at donors conferences," he said, adding that the Haitian people "are expecting to see changes." He called in particular for the funding of development projects aimed at improving the infrastructure of the impoverished Caribbean nation.

While most of the authorized 6,700 troops have arrived, more civilian police and other international staff are expected in the coming weeks. In order to consolidate its operations, MINUSTAH, which currently has offices scattered in different parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, will move to a new headquarters early next year.

 

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