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Long-Term UN Presence In Post-Conflict Haiti

Annan's Adviser Recommends Long-Term Un Presence In Post-Conflict Haiti

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special adviser on Haiti today called for a long-term international presence of some 20 years in the Caribbean country as it recovered from a series of reverses, but he said that mission must give ownership of reconstruction programmes to Haitians themselves.

"We cannot continue, I said to the Council this morning, with the stop-start cycle that has characterized relations between the international community and Haiti," Special Adviser Reginald Dumas told journalists after he spoke to the Security Council in a closed meeting.

Since 1994, 10 separate and joint missions by the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) would spend a year or two, without necessarily involving local people in their work, and there would be no continuity after the missions left, he said.

During a recent 10-day visit to Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, he saw that the health care, education, human rights, justice and police institutions had virtually collapsed and would require a massive and sustained effort on the part of the international community to restore, Mr. Dumas said.

A long-term commitment would last for a period of not less than 20 years, he said, whether that period would be acceptable to the international community or not. He noted that Mr. Annan had suggested a commitment of 10 years "or more."

In a couple of weeks he would return to improved security in Haiti and hoped to travel into the interior by road, he said.

Asked about a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) request for an investigation into how Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to leave the country at the beginning of the month, he said the request was first made at the special meeting of the regional body in early March and was repeated last week by the 15-member CARICOM summit that met in St. Kitts and Nevis.

"Now remember that this is not an investigation by the United Nations," he said. "It is an investigation under the auspices of the UN."

The communiqué from the CARICOM Special Meeting was sent to the Secretary-General who circulated it to General Assembly and Security Council members, but Mr. Dumas said his understanding was that this was not the same as a formal request. "As far as I know, it still remains on the table," he added.

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