PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – Calling on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to step up its efforts to prevent crime and reduce violence in the impoverished Caribbean country, the Security Council today extended the mission’s mandate by another six months.
At a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, the Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate through 15 February next year, six months earlier than the date requested by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a recent report.
The resolution passed by the Council calls for MINUSTAH to be comprised of up to 7,200 peacekeeping troops and as many as 1,951 police officers, as well as 16 corrections officers seconded from other UN Member States. As of mid-July, there were some 6,200 troops and 1,687 police.
Violent crime remains a problem of enormous magnitude in Haiti, especially 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 the year.
The Council asked MINUSTAH to reorient its program of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants “towards a comprehensive community violence reduction program adapted to local conditions,” including the provision of job opportunities for gang members and other at-risk youths.
The mission was also asked to work closely with Haitian authorities to combat cross-border drugs and arms trafficking, train police officers and help reform the justice sector, which is plagued by problems ranging from prison overcrowding to impunity for many violent crimes.
Council members also asked Haiti to complete run-off legislative and municipal elections as soon as feasible, and for MINUSTAH to help in the organization of those polls.
In his most recent report on the mission, Mr. Annan said that Haiti is posed for a fresh start after the successful staging of elections earlier this year and the subsequent formation of a broad-based government, which has representatives from seven different political parties in the 18-member cabinet.