Peacekeeping mission in Haiti says armed groups have gone underground

22 August 2005

Although the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti no longer needs to patrol in armoured vehicles, it says the armed groups it has been battling in the shantytowns of the capital have gone underground and the police must work most closely with intelligence services, a senior military official said.

In a radio interview, Lieutenant Colonel André Luis Novaes Miranda of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said operations in the Caribbean country have moved to a new phase.

“The armed groups now function in a clandestine fashion. We wish therefore to open the way to the National Police and the CivPol (mission civilian police) which must penetrate these areas to continue the work that we have already started with regard to the return to order and security,” he said.

The people living in the troubled districts have begun to give the mission a positive response, and no shots have been heard in these areas, even though the bandits of Delmas and Bel-Air are still armed. “Nonetheless, the group led by ‘General Toutou’ continues to resist,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing a two-day Santiago seminar for MINUSTAH troop-contributing countries in Chile entitled “Chile, regional security and the future of Haiti,” mission chief Juan Gabriel Valdés, a former Chilean ambassador, stressed “the importance and the historical value of the joint presence of Latin American armies in a peacekeeping mission to aid a country in the same region.”

Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General José Miguel Insulzae and MINUSTAH Force Commander General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira joined the Foreign Affairs and Defence deputy ministers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay at the meeting. The deputy ministers re-affirmed their commitment to the mission said the efforts now being made should be maintained.

But Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker, said the efforts to stabilize Haiti after civil strife have been positive yet inadequate. “To arrive at a more significant success in Haiti needs additional efforts, as well as greater financial and human resources,” he said.

After an insurgency that forced elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile in February 2004, MINUSTAH has spent more than a year trying to re-establish order in the Caribbean country. In early regional cooperation, Haiti responded to an 1815 appeal from South American "Liberator" Simon Bolivar by donating supplies and men for the independence struggle that freed Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.


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