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Regional action against crime crucial for stability in Haiti, UN mission chief says

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – For lasting stability in Haiti, neighbouring countries must help foil trans-national crime through the sharing of information, patrolling, and coordinated operations, according to the head of the United Nations mission in that country (MINUSTAH).

“Over the past year, the Mission has launched with the Haitian authorities an additional effort that specifically seeks to improve security along the country’s borders,” Hedi Annabi, Special Representative for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said yesterday at the Ministerial Conference on Illicit Drug Trafficking, Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

“However, this basic presence cannot realistically respond to the cross-border threats that are the subject of today’s conference,” said Mr. Annabi, appealing for coordinated efforts by others in the region.

Within Haiti itself, he said, close cooperation between MINUSTAH and Haitian security forces had already permitted the recovery of rural areas from armed and the dismantling of gang strongholds in urban areas.

MINUSTAH troops are deployed along the land border with the Haitian National Police (HNP), focusing on four major crossing points, and the mission is also helping the authorities to establish maritime policing with the recent deployment of 16 patrol boats along the coastline.

“Through this last initiative, we hope to improve our awareness of threats, to deter trouble-makers, to project State authority, and to improve collection of revenue,” he said, reaffirming, that cross-border threats still needed regional action.

Justice Ministers from 16 countries in the Caribbean region are attending the four-day conference, which ends today and is co-sponsored by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Dominican Government.

UNODC Director Antonio Maria Costa noted that Caribbean countries, which have some of the highest crime rates in the world, are trapped in the crossfire between illicit drug producers in the South and consumers in the North, requiring technical assistance, protection and funding from donors to counter the criminal threat.

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