Concerned at mounting bloodshed in Haiti UN envoy urges dialogue

Juan Gabriel Valdés, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, released a statement deploring the “savage murder” of several police and the bloodshed which followed recent demonstrations in the capital, Port-au-Prince.The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will continue to work in support of the Haitian police in maintaining public order, he said, ensuring the security of citizens, the protection of goods and respect for the rule of law.”I call upon the Haitian population to avoid being drawn into a vicious cycle of revenge and violence and to follow the path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace,” Mr. Valdés said. “I do not want to underestimate the seriousness of the current situation, but I believe that there is still time to resume dialogue.”A spokesman for the mission told the UN News Service that more international troops and civilian police are needed to shore up Haiti’s own law enforcement efforts.”Now we just have 3,092 troops on the ground” out of an authorized strength of 6,700, Toussaint Kongo-Doudou said. Less than half of the authorized level of civilian police – 583 out of 1,622 – have been deployed. Following the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne, MINUSTAH mobilized its forces in support of the humanitarian effort, relocating blue helmets to the hard-hit city of Gonaïves. “Some of our troops became humanitarian agents providing security at distribution sites and even distributing food to the affected population,” Mr. Kongo-Doudou said. Argentine soldiers serving with MINUSTAH opened a clinic in Gonaïves and treated some 5,000 patients in the area. The Mission also mobilized its entire fleet of helicopters in support of the humanitarian effort, ferrying aid and staff to the affected areas and conducting aerial surveys.UN peacekeepers not only helped the living but also worked to recover the remains of the dead. More than 1,500 people have been killed and at least 900 others are missing in the floods and mudslides that followed Tropical Storm Jeanne.”When you have floods and people living on top of houses and fighting for their survival, what you have to do is re-establish your priorities, transferring some of your strengths in order to help,” Mr. Kongo-Doudou said. “This was not part of the original mandate of MINUSTAH,” he noted, “but if MINUSTAH was not there, the situation would have been much worse.”He said the international community must send more troops and civilian police to the beleaguered Caribbean country. “Deploying troops is not an easy operation – it costs money. There have been pledges but the deployment has been quite slow.”The process of restoring stability in Haiti must be directed by the country’s people, he stressed. “Security must be a Haitian-led process…We need adequate troops, we need resources.” read more