UN Urges International Community to Honor Haiti Aid Promises

Posted September 16th, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The head of the United Nations mission in Haiti is urging the international community to step up its funding and development activities there, saying the country's stability is threatened by political tension and socio-economic problems.

Mariano Fernandez spoke Friday as he presented a report on Haiti to the U.N. Security Council. In his remarks, Fernandez said only about 38 percent of the funds promised for the 2010-2011 period have been provided so far.

Fernandez said the situation in Haiti continues to be fragile and that any setbacks could lead to a new crisis. He said its future stability and prosperity will continue to depend on the political will of its leaders and citizens and the support of the international community.

Fernandez noted that President Michel Martelly has not been able to win parliamentary approval for his choices for prime minister. Fernandez also voiced concern about rising crime in the Caribbean nation.

On a separate topic, Fernandez said the number of uniformed personnel involved in peacekeeping operations could now be reduced by about 2,750. The number of peacekeepers grew to about 12,000 following Haiti's deadly earthquake in January 2010. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants the U.N. mission in Haiti extended until October of next year.

Earlier this week, police in Haiti clashed with hundreds of protesters demanding U.N. troops leave the country after some Uruguayan peacekeepers were alleged to have sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man. The protest was sparked after video taken on a cell phone showed the peacekeepers taking part in what appeared to be an attack on the teenager. The video was widely seen on the Internet.

Uruguay's president, Jose Mujica, has apologized to Haiti, saying Uruguayans were humiliated by the “criminal and embarrassing” behavior of a few of their soldiers. Uruguay's government has also dismissed a naval officer and recalled five soldiers over the alleged incident.

When U.N. peacekeepers are accused of misconduct, it is up to their country of origin to investigate and discipline any offenders.