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UN should stay long enough to consolidate Haiti

UN should stay long enough to consolidate Haiti’s progress, mission chief says

The international community must give urgent financial support to the Government of newly elected President Réné Préval of Haiti, who will lack the money to pay State workers in the immediate future, the United Nations Secretary-General’s outgoing Special Representative in that country, Juan Gabriel Valdés, said today.

“It is absolutely urgent that the international community give budget support to Mr. Préval for the first six months of his Government. If he doesn’t get that support he will face a very difficult situation because he has to pay police, he has to pay teachers, he has to pay health workers and the present situation doesn’t permit him to do so,” Mr. Valdés stressed at a news conference at UN Headquarters.

The World Bank had approved a loan for Haiti which would only be released after October, he said, but he added that both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank had shown flexibility.

A team sent to Haiti two weeks ago and led by economist Jeffrey Sachs recommended that aid be sent in three phases: the first six months of the new Government, the first two years, and then Mr. Préval’s entire presidency, the UN envoy said.

A meeting in Brasilia next Tuesday would reunite donor representatives with the Core Group on Haiti – the European Union, Canada, the United States and the Latin Americans – and would also confirm the commitment of the troop-contributing countries, he said.

At that meeting, it would be important for Haitians to clarify how they had spent some $800 million, which donor countries said they had disbursed out of the $1.2 billion pledged, especially with respect to the execution of such projects as strengthening the infrastructure, Mr. Valdés said.

A subsequent meeting in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, had been called by the World Bank and would reunite donor countries with key financial institutions.

The envoy expressed the hope that new aid pledges would favour a programme that included combating corruption, controlling seaports and ending all illicit traffic, particularly of weapons.

On the security situation, he said the UN, which on some half dozen past occasions has left Haiti before improvements took hold, should now reinforce its presence, maintain current troop levels and strengthen the extremely fragile security.

While there might be some changes in the nature and composition of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the time had not yet come to leave, said Mr. Valdés, who is also MINUSTAH chief until the end of the month.

He noted that Mr. Préval has requested that the MINUSTAH stay on until a professional police force had been trained and the structure of the judiciary had improved – and, indeed, for the duration of his presidency.

He expressed the hope that the new Special Representative, Edmond Mulet of Guatemala, who would take over in June would find the Mission well organized in terms of its work in the security sector and in social development, especially in the poorest areas.

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