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Haiti Has Foundations for Recovery And Renewal

Despite Challenges, Haiti Has Foundations for Recovery And Renewal, Says UN Report

New York, Aug 1 2006 6:00PM

Haiti stands ready for peaceful development after the successful staging of elections earlier this year and the subsequent formation of a broad-based government with ambitious but balanced policy goals, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report on the United Nations mission to the Caribbean nation.

But he warns that the challenges faced by the country – the most impoverished in the Western Hemisphere – remain so vast, especially in tackling crime and insecurity, that international donors must be willing to step up their support for Haitian authorities.

In his report to the Security Council on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Mr. Annan says that the country is poised for a fresh start. “A new page in the history of Haiti has been turned,” he writes. “Today, the people of Haiti have a unique opportunity to break the cycle of violence and poverty and move towards a future of stable and peaceful development.”

Mr. Annan praises President Rene Préval, who assumed office in May, for reaching out to “all political and social forces in Haiti in a spirit of reconciliation and dialogue,” and notes that the country’s 18-member cabinet has representatives from seven different political parties.

But he voices concern about the security situation across the country, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where the number of kidnappings by armed groups has started to surge again after declining at the beginning of this year.

Illegal drug and arms trafficking remains a major problem, and has led some civil society groups to criticize the Government and MINUSTAH for their perceived inadequate response.

To address this, the Secretary-General calls for strengthening the MINUSTAH police “with SWAT-qualified personnel and equipment, as part of its formed police units, as well as with expert advisers in counter-kidnapping and anti-gang operations, as part of its police contingent, to better support the Haitian National Police.”

At the same time, he cautions against inflated expectations. “It is important to recognize that there are limitations” to MINUSTAH’s mandate, he says. “While the Mission intends to maximize its crime prevention role, it will not be able to respond to criminality in an exhaustive manner. Neither will the MINUSTAH security presence at border crossings and selected ports and crossroads be sufficient to fully deter illicit activities, including the trans-shipment of drugs and weapons.”

Given these conditions, the Secretary-General calls for international help, particularly from regional partners, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The report has been issued as the Secretary-General prepares to head to Haiti tomorrow on the first leg of an official tour that also includes a visit to the Dominican Republic.

ENDS

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