Monday, October 16, 2017

Haiti:The UN Occupation Ends

After 13 years, the United Nations is ending its mission in Haiti. And there are plenty of people who think this is a good thing.

In 2004, following the coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide the United States prompted  the United Nations Security Council to send in 6,700 "blue helmet" peacekeepers, 1,600 police officers and another 1,700 civilian aid workers and diplomats.

 MINUSTAH ran into difficulties right from the start. There was little support for the mission among Haitians themselves. They have long seen the mission as something of an occupying army.

Canadian political scientist Nicolas Lemay-Hebert from the University of Birmingham in the UK  commented that "the mission was seen as yet another foreign 'occupation' in Haiti.” Lemay-Hebert believes the United Nations needs to completely rethink its operations. MINUSTAH, he says, has shown that where peace missions are concerned, "more" does not necessarily equal "better."

Jorge Heine and Andrew S. Thompson write in the book "Fixing Haiti", "Since its establishment in June 2004, MINUSTAH's presence in Haiti has at times been problematic, even divisive."

One of the first negative incidents took place a few months after the mission began, in the infamous slum Cite Soleil on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince. UN peacekeepers under Brazilian command were described as having conducted a violent crackdown not only against criminal gangs but also against supporters of the deposed president, as well as others who were entirely uninvolved with either group. 

"This incident is still in the forefront of people's minds today when Haitians criticize the UN," the political scientist Anna Lange wrote.

UN soldiers were proven to have raped local people on numerous occasions, and to have taken part in the sexual abuse and prostitution of minors. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley toldof a sex ring allegedly run by at least 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers, who lured children with food. "The children were passed from soldier to soldier. One boy was gang-raped in 2011 by peacekeepers who disgustingly filmed it on a cell phone."

In October 2010 a cholera epidemic broke out. At least 600,000 people fell sick, and between 8,000 and 10,000 died. It had originated in a camp of Nepalese UN peacekeepers. Eexperts concluded that simple preventative measures could have forestalled the outbreak. Yet the UN has still not acknowledged that it was at fault. Lemay-Hebert comments that the UN has used Haiti's "lack of a proper sewage and sanitation system to absolve itself from responsibility for the outbreak."

The UN peacekeepers are to be immediately replaced by a security force of about 1,300 international police officers, known as the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). Various UN agencies and programs, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, will continue working in the country.

1 comment:

Trevor Goodger-Hill said...

Thanks for that posting. What a sorry state of capitalist treachery for the Haitian population, who have been economically controlled by the U.S. for its agricultural produce.

Canada backed the overthrow of Aristides -- apparently the only popularly-elected president -- and helped escort him out of the country -- backing up the owning class disruptions and the tom-tom mascoutes used by the U.S and Canada as justification for his overthrow.