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United Nations Security Council to Close 13-year-old Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

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FILE - The U.N. Security Council votes on a resolution concerning North Korea, March 23, 2017. The Council voted unanimously Thursday to end the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October. VOA
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The United Nations Security Council took action Thursday to begin shutting down its 13-year-old peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The current 5,000-strong mission will begin drawing down its troops and transition in mid-October to a smaller force of just over 1,200 police personnel. It will focus on the rule of law, building Haitian police capacities and monitoring human rights.

“As the stabilization mission in Haiti draws down and the new mission gears up, the Haitian people will be set on the path of independence and self-sufficiency,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members.

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The council said in its unanimously agreed resolution that the transition recognizes “the major milestone towards stabilization achieved” with the peaceful transfer of power in elections held in February.

“This new stage does not mean that it is the end of the commitment to Haiti,” said France’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Alexis Lamek. “It shows quite the contrary, that we can develop, change and adapt our activity to the situation on the field, while guided by the need to meet the aspirations of the people.”

FILE – A U.N. peacekeeper takes cover behind national police officers while demonstrators throw rocks, during a protest against the country’s electoral council to mark the 25th anniversary of first democratic election in 1990, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. VOA

History

The U.N. stabilization mission, known as MINUSTAH, was deployed to Haiti in June 2004. It succeeded a Multinational Interim Force authorized by the Security Council in February 2004 after then-Haitian President Bertrand Aristide departed the country for exile following violence that spread to several cities across the nation.

By 2010, the country was regaining stability when it was rocked by a massive earthquake. More than 220,000 people were killed. Among the dead were 102 U.N. personnel, including the head of the MINUSTAH mission and his deputy.

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In response to the needs following the earthquake, the Security Council added 3,500 more troops and police to support recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts.

In 2016, Haiti again faced another natural catastrophe when Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern part of the Caribbean nation and killed hundreds.

FILE – A demonstrator spray paints the message in Creole “We demand justice for all cholera victims” outside United Nations headquarters to protest the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 15, 2015. VOA

Cholera outbreak

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the country suffered a cholera epidemic. U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for bringing the disease into the country. Haiti’s Artibonite River was infected with cholera through human waste believed to be from the peacekeepers’ camp. The river is the main water source for tens of thousands of Haitians.

Subsequently, more than 8,500 people died of the water-borne disease, which can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, and hundreds of thousands more were sickened.

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Last year, the United Nations acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and said it would set up a trust fund for victims. It has appealed to member states for $400 million to fight the disease and support those most directly affected by it. The trust fund, however, is severely underfunded, with only $2.6 million of the $400 million requested having been received.

FILE – A Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper opens a gate at the U.N. base in the Cite Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. VOA

Sexual abuse and exploitation

U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti have also come under criticism for the rape and exploitation of children and women they were sent to protect.

In 2012, three Pakistani peacekeepers were sent home after the rape of a Haitian boy at their base. Only one peacekeeper reportedly served a brief jail sentence in Pakistan.

This week, the Associated Press reported that at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers repeatedly sexually abused nine Haitian children as part of a sex ring from 2004 to 2007. None of the peacekeepers has been jailed for the alleged crimes.

Peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Jordan, Nigeria and Uruguay have also faced allegations in Haiti.

The Haitian cases are part of a wider problem in U.N. peacekeeping of sexual exploitation and abuse that the organization has been trying to stem for years. Despite a “zero tolerance” policy and the repatriation of offenders, the inability to stop often poorly trained and ill-disciplined troops from abusing civilians has been a major stain on the U.N.’s credibility and reputation.

The United States, which pays nearly a third of the annual peacekeeping budget of almost $8 billion, has demanded that the abuses stop.

“These peacekeepers are sent into vulnerable communities to protect the innocent, not to exploit or rape them,” Ambassador Haley told council members. “Countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops, or their troops will go home and the financial compensation will end.” (VOA)

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As Climate Talks Come to a Halt, Africa Suffers From Global Warming

The World Health Organization warns that climate change will exacerbate the impact of some disease and health problems.

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Drought, Climate change, global warming
A farmer stands on cracked earth that three weeks earlier created the bottom of a reservoir on his farm, in Groot Marico, South Africa. VOA

Efforts to boost global action against climate change are stuttering, as several key nations have objected to a key United Nations-backed report on the impacts of rising temperatures at the COP24 talks in Poland.

Many developing nations say they are already suffering from the impact of climate change, especially in south Asia and Africa, where water shortages and intense storms are putting lives and livelihoods in danger.

In Malawi in southern Africa, a bustling fish market stood at Kachulu on the shores of Lake Chilwa just five months ago. Now, hundreds of fishing boats lie marooned across the vast bay as vultures circle over the cracked, sun-baked mud. Water levels here fluctuate annually, but scientists say climate change is making the seasonal dry-out of the lake far more dramatic. Fishermen are being forced to leave and look for work elsewhere, says Sosten Chiotha, of the non-governmental organization ‘LEAD’ – Leadership for Environment and Development.

“Climate change contributes to the current recessions that we are experiencing, because you can see that in 2012 there was a recession where the lake lost about 80 percent of its water. Then it recovered in 2013, but not fully. So since then every year we have been experiencing these recessions,” Chiotha said.

Scientists gathering at the COP24 climate talks say it is developing countries like Malawi that are being hit hardest by the impacts of climate change.

The charity Water Aid has released a report ranking the countries worst-hit by water shortages, with Sudan, Niger and Pakistan making up the top three.

“There are people who are living with the impact of climate change right now. And they’re feeling those impacts not through carbon, but through water. And as we’ve seen over the past few years and will continue to see for many years to come unfortunately, is a huge increase in water stress and absolute water scarcity,” Water Aid’s Jonathan Farr told VOA from the climate talks currently underway in the Polish city of Katowice.

Richer nations have pledged $100 billion a year for poorer nations to deal with the consequences of climate change. Water Aid says they are failing to deliver the money.

Scientists say emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 to have any hope of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius – the target agreed in the Paris climate deal.

 

 

Global Warming, Climate Change, Africa
Climate activists attend the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 8, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

However, the number of coal-fired power stations – the most polluting for

m of energy generation – is growing. The German organization ‘Urgewald’ calculates that $478 billion had been invested into expansion of the coal industry between January 2016 and September 2018.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Meanwhile the World Health Organization warns that climate change will exacerbate the impact of some disease and health problems, including malaria, malnutrition and heat exposure.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

There is little optimism at the talks that much concrete progress will be made, as several countries including the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia have already voiced objections to a key scientific report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (VOA)