|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6724th Meeting (AM)
United States Briefs Security Council on Results of 13-16 February Haiti Mission,
Says Members Felt HaitianS’ ‘Deep Desire’ to See Their County Stand on Its Own
Also Saw ‘Important Progress’ Made Since Devastating 2010 Earthquake,
Noted Disturbing Level of Political Infighting in Country That Could Ill Afford It
The Security Council mission to Haiti in February had felt Haitians’ “deep desire” to see their country stand on its own and rely less on international support, anticipating the eventual departure of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) with stronger Haitian institutions assuming their responsibility, the Permanent Representative of the United States said today.
Briefing the Security Council on the 13-16 February mission of Council members and Secretariat officials to examine progress made in that impoverished Caribbean country since the devastating January 2010 earthquake, Susan Rice, Head of that mission, said the trip — the first of its kind to the country in three years — undertook to examine the security situation, review post-earthquake reconstruction efforts, and assess the consolidation of democracy.
She said that Council members saw Haiti’s important progress since the quake, but also noted a disturbing level of political in-fighting in a country that could ill afford it. Members reiterated the international community’s solidarity with Haiti as it tackled the myriad challenges.
In Port au Prince, she recalled, the country’s President and Prime Minister outlined their vision for promoting development by attracting foreign investment and creating jobs. The Ambassadors had gained an insight into the Government’s ideas for rebuilding infrastructure and strengthening health care, and they underscored that development was a critical part of ensuring long-term stability.
Noting the Government’s expressed desire to create a second security force, she said the Council questioned that course of action, having emphasized instead the importance of strengthening the Haitian national police to enable it to assume full responsibility for the country’s security.
At the same time, critical views were shared by the Government about the slow progress of international support in the context of alleged sexual abuse by MINUSTAH personnel, and in addressing the challenges stemming from cholera, among others.
Noting plans under way to reduce the Mission’s military component and put greater responsibility on the United Nations police and their Haitian counterparts, Ms. Rice said Council members had visited areas where MINUSTAH had already withdrawn military forces, as well as the epicentre of the earthquake, she noted. They had also met leaders of a Korean corps of engineers, busy building roads and other infrastructure and an installation of solar-powered lights in a nearby camp for displaced persons, and visited a housing construction site run by a non-governmental organization. MINUSTAH engineers were working to strengthen local capacity in construction and engineering. By the close of the first day, the Council mission had also met with representatives of the private sector, civil society and the diplomatic corps, hearing a range of views on the challenges and role of the international community on how best to support the country.
Among stops as the mission travelled north on the second day was a visit to a typically severely overcrowded prison and judicial tribunal, unable to cope with its demands. Members saw an industrial park, set to open later this year, which, once fully operational, could create up to 60,000 new jobs. Upon returning to the capital of Port au Prince, the mission visited a police session, and on its final day, was briefed on efforts to bring more women into the force, root out corruption and human rights violations, and combat sexual-based violence and drug trafficking. Tent homes were visited, as well as two cholera treatment centres.
In an effort to gain a full picture of the situation, mission members had also met with members of women’s organizations, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, youth leaders and other civil society representatives, who shared Haitian’s deep desire to see their country succeed. Many Haitians had shared serious concerns about the dispute that divided their political leaders. Ordinary Haitians had told Council members that they wanted elected leaders to put aside “winner-takes-all” politics in favour of truly solving the nation’s problems.
Finally, she said, the trip had been an opportunity to see the dedicated work of MINUSTAH staff under very difficult conditions. Many Haitians had acknowledged that MINUSTAH played a necessary role, but they also shared a desire to see a stronger Haiti assuming its full responsibility. The cholera epidemic and allegations of sexual exploitation by MINUSTAH personnel badly undermined it. She was deeply troubled by that, and expected the United Nations to redouble its prevention efforts and hold the perpetrators accountable. Haiti and MINUSTAH had accomplished much in two years since the earthquake. With more hard work, a better future could yet be ensured for the country.
The meeting was called to order at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 10:21 a.m.
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