Haiti needs international aid at current crucial juncture, says UN official

28 February 2007

Immediate urgent action and increased aid, especially financial support, from the international community are necessary to improve the humanitarian situation in Haiti which is at a “crossroads in its history,” a United Nations envoy to the country said today in New York.

“We’ve seen statistically that countries that are coming out of a long period of tension or conflict have a strong tendency to relapse” without “strong and coherent support from the international community,” Joel Boutroue, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Haiti, told reporters at a press briefing.

He called for an intensification of actions such as those currently underway to reform the police and justice system in Haiti.

Mr. Boutroue cited positive gains the country has made recently, pointing out that recent presidential, legislative and local elections have given the Government much-needed credibility, while Haiti’s investment in development projects reflects its commitment to stability.

The envoy also lauded the efforts to rid the capital Port-au-Prince of gangs, allowing the residents of notorious slum areas such as Cité Soleil to regain freedom and a sense of security.

However, without a large infusion of cash into the neighbourhoods, the population will remain mired in poverty and will “rapidly lose confidence or trust in its Government and in the international community as a whole,” he warned. Haitians must be made aware that there is a marked difference between when gangs operated with impunity and now, when the Government, with the strong support of the world, “runs the show.”

The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, has been conducting sweeps to rid Port-au-Prince of violent crime. Blue helmets have arrested almost 60 suspected gangsters since a crack-down was launched on armed marauders earlier this month.

 

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