Citing “significant challenges” for Haiti’s Government, the United Nations Secretary-General has recommended extending the world body’s mission in the impoverished country for a further 12 months until February 2008.
The report by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was succeeded as the world’s top diplomat on 1 January by Ban Ki-moon, covers the work of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for five months until December 2006, including its logistical and security assistance for last month’s elections.
“The Government will continue to face significant challenges in the coming months…
Accordingly, I recommend that the Mission be extended for a further 12-month period…and with its present authorized troop and police ceilings,” Mr. Annan wrote, referring to MINUSTAH’s current mandate that ends on 15 February 2007.
Citing the potential for destabilizing forces “to use violence to attain their objectives,” he argued that, “The continued engagement of the Mission’s military and police will remain crucial in responding to significant threats at a time when Haiti’s own security capacity is still at an early stage of development.”
MINUSTAH currently employs more than 6,600 military personnel and over 1,700 police officers, as well as hundreds of civilian staff assisting the people of Haiti, which is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
The challenges ahead for the Government cover the areas of “security, institution-building and socio-economic development,” Mr. Annan noted, adding that while primary responsibility for ensuring progress remains with Haiti’s leadership and people, international aid remains essential.
“Sustained bilateral assistance will be indispensable to further reinforce and strengthen democratic structures of governance and rule of law, including through meeting key infrastructural requirements. This will also be crucial to bringing tangible improvements to the daily lives of Haitians.”
“Tangible improvements in the socio-economic conditions of the general population, including through job creation, is essential to forestall an increase in popular discontent that could unravel all that has been accomplished thus far.”
In December, the UN launched an appeal in Geneva for $98 million for Haiti to cover basic services, political governance and economic recovery, as well as provide assistance to help authorities better prepare for natural disasters, which frequently hit the country.