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UN Launches Peacekeeping Operation In Haiti

UN Launches Peacekeeping Operation In Haiti

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was formally launched today, will assist the people of Haiti on numerous levels in tackling the complex challenges they face, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

The Mission shows the international community's commitment to Haiti and reflects that commitment in its mandate, size and structure, he said in a speech delivered by Special Advisor on Haiti Reginald Dumas at Haiti's Police Academy, as authority was transferred from the United States-led Multinational Interim Force (MIF) to MINUSTAH.

"The United Nations thus stands ready to work with Haiti and its people to overcome the current critical situation and to ensure a sustainable future," Mr. Annan said. He noted that weapons have proliferated and the rule of law and public security must be restored, while basic services require urgent rehabilitation and jobs are scarce.

"This dire economic and humanitarian situation is compounded by the recent flooding, which took many lives and caused extensive damage," he said, extending condolences to those who lost relatives and friends in last week's flash floods.

Mr. Annan commended the MIF for its efforts to stabilize a precarious security situation since 29 February, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family left the country, and expressed his appreciation for the support it would provide to MINUSTAH during the 30-day transition period.

The UN Mission, under an as-yet unnamed Special Representative of the Secretary-General, is mandated to coordinate its operations with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Among its tasks, MINUSTAH should establish a secure and stable environment, foster democratic governance and institutional development, assist Haiti's Transitional Government in organizing free and fair municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections as soon as possible, strengthen the rule of law and support the country's human rights institutions and groups.

"I am encouraged by the political will demonstrated by the Government to succeed in the transition and put Haiti on the path of democracy and sustainable development," Mr. Annan said. "The international community must do its part and remain engaged for the long term, both politically and financially."

"It must seek creative ways to assist Haitians, based on lessons learned, while leaving the ownership of the process firmly in the hands of the Haitian people," he added.

MINUSTAH is the fifth UN mission mounted for Haiti since 1993.

Brazilian Lieutenant-General Augusto Ribeiro-Pereira has been named as Force Commander of the new mission, which is receiving personnel from Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, France, Guatemala, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, the United States and Uruguay.

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