Haiti: UN expands humanitarian activities in former hotbed of armed criminal gangs

Haiti: UN expands humanitarian activities in former hotbed of armed criminal gangs

Women wait patiently for their ration
From security and justice to water and electricity to health and education, United Nations agencies are teaming up with the Haitian authorities to bring sorely needed services to the Cité Soleil neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, the capital, one of the violence-ridden country’s most dangerous areas until a recent UN-backed crackdown on armed gangsters.

“Recent security operations in Cité Soleil have allowed a more serene climate to take hold after a very difficult period for the inhabitants of this slum,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest update on the impoverished Caribbean country, which the UN has been helping to stabilize after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile in 2003.

“This new panorama, beyond facilitating the realization of humanitarian activities and development already underway, has also allowed the reinforcement of cooperation between the United Nations system and the Haitian Government in their joint efforts to improve the living conditions of the population in Cité.”

After sending in hundreds of UN peacekeepers together with Haitian police in several sweeps over the past two months in a crackdown that netted scores of suspected gangsters and several arms caches, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) took immediate humanitarian steps to improve the lot of Cité Soleil’s inhabitants, including restoring schools, health care posts and the water supply.

Now UN agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as MINUSTAH, are planning further initiatives over the coming days together with other international partners.

The Haitian Government has set up four sub-groups for this international operation in Cité Soleil: security and justice; infrastructure, water, sanitation and electricity; health; and education/leisure and psychosocial services.

“In this way the UN system in Haiti will continue to engage in the different sectors identified by the Government for the necessary support of vulnerable people and in backing the efforts of the national authorities to achieve Haiti’s social stabilization and economic development,” OCHA said.