The top United Nations official in Haiti today appealed to the international community to ramp up its funding and development activities in the impoverished country, warning that political tensions and precarious socio-economic conditions are threatening its stability.
“The situation in Haiti continues to be fragile and reversals could generate a new crisis,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Mariano Fernández told the Security Council as he presented the latest report on the country, where the UN has maintained a peacekeeping force (MINUSTAH) since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.
“The future stability of Haiti and its eventual prosperity continue to depend on the political will of its leaders and citizens, as well as on the support of the Security Council and the international community as a whole,” he said, noting that only 37.8 per cent of the funds promised for 2010-2011 had so far been provided.
In March 2010, dozens of nations and organizations pledged almost $10 billion in immediate and long-term aid, $5 billion of it for the following 18 months, to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake, which killed over 200,000 people, displaced 2.3 million others, and caused enormous material damage.
On the positive side Mr. Fernández noted that for the first time in its history Haiti had witnessed a peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another from the opposition, with the inauguration earlier this year of Michel Martelly.
But he voiced concern at the continuing stand-off between the President and Parliament, which has so far rejected his choices for prime minister, and noted that growing criminality was threatening the security of ordinary citizens.
“I am particularly concerned that this current unstable situation could deteriorate even further if the political situation remains unchanged and the socio-economic situation is still not addressed,” he said.
“MINUSTAH’s constant efforts to facilitate dialogue at the national and local levels and to foster the exchange of ideas between the Government, civil society, the private sector and other key actors will continue to be critical for the future.”
On the humanitarian front, Mr. Fernández noted that 634,000 people still remain in camps following the January 2010 quake, down from the more than 1 million in the immediate aftermath, and he warned that a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 6,000 people and infected nearly 400,000 others over the past year was still a threat even though the mortality rate had declined from 5.62 per cent to 1.4 per cent.
He said MINUSTAH’s strength, which had been reinforced to some 12,000 uniformed personnel following the quake, could now be reduced by 2,750 military and police members. In his report Mr. Ban called for the mission to be extended for another year until 15 October 2012.
“In the face of these challenges I am convinced that MINUSTAH’s strategic focus will continue to be our support in strengthening the institutions, the state of law for the protection of human rights, and above all to provide stability to the country,” he said.