20 February 2004 Secretary-General Kofi Annan intends to name a Special Adviser for Haiti to establish high-level contacts with the mediating regional organizations during the Caribbean country’s political crisis and to advise him on possible future United Nations work there, a senior UN official said today.
The UN has no political presence in Haiti and has had to depend on reports on political developments from the media and “other sources available to us on the ground,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told an informal meeting of the General Assembly.
“The capacity of the Secretariat for political analysis of the Haiti situation remains limited and needs strengthening,” he said.
Haiti’s political situation became volatile after flawed elections in May 2000, and in recent months, confrontations became fatal as the positions of the Government and opposition hardened, the Under-Secretary-General said. Anti-government protests have increasingly focused on the demand that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resign, while he has pledged not to leave office before the end of his term in 2006.
Mr. Annan has repeatedly underlined the UN’s full support to the two regional organizations working to break the impasse between Haiti’s Government and opposition: the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Meanwhile, the UN is sending missions to assess humanitarian needs in the hardest hit areas in Haiti and is planning a “Flash Appeal” for international assistance with such problems as health care, conflict resolution and disarmament, Mr. Prendergast said.
“At the moment, teams are visiting the northern departments that have been cut off in recent days, particularly around the cities of Cap Haitien and Port-de-Paix,” he added. “Gonaives will be visited in coming days.”