PORT-AU-PRINCE (HAITI), JUNE 24 – Cholera and babies left behind by UN peacekeepers were among the issues on the agenda of a three-day visit to Haiti by a Security Council delegation. The Council stressed that it has accomplished the objectives of the mission, including a first-hand look into how best the United Nations could contribute to the country’s lasting stability and development.“I am glad to report that the objectives of the visit were met,” Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz, Bolivia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, who led the Council delegation, told a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“With this visit, we have reaffirmed the Security Council’s commitment towards the government and the people of Haiti and towards its institutional strengthening in order to contribute to its stability and development,” he added. Bolivia holds the Council’s presidency for the month of June.
Members, including Italy’s Deputy Permanent representative Inigo Lambertini, heard a variety of concerns during the discussions, which began with President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday and concluded late Friday with members of the judiciary and the heads of national accountability institutions, including Haiti’s Central Financial Intelligence Unit chief Jean-Francois Sonel, who has come under fire after he forwarded a money-laundering investigation on the president’s finances to an investigative judge ahead of Moïse’s Feb. 7 swearing in. While in Haiti, Lambertini met with the representatives for UNHCR, Giuseppe Calandruccio, and OCHA, Enzo Taranto, both Italian nationals. he also paid respect to the victims of the 2010 earthquake, among them Cecilia Corneo and Guido Galli.
Among the issues Haitians raised: the lack of independence of the judiciary; the need for the U.N. to compensate victims of cholera; the abandoned children of peacekeepers; and the desire for a new, smaller mission to be Haiti’s last.
In resolution 2350 of 13 April, the 15-member Council extended the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for a final six months, deciding to replace it with a smaller follow-up peacekeeping mission that would help the Government of Haiti strengthen rule-of-law institutions, further develop and support the Haitian National Police and engage in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.
“Haiti has fortunately entered a new period of stability, providing an important window of opportunity for the government and other state institutions to be able to bring forward a programme of reform so needed to allow Haiti to join the path of sustainable development,” Mr. Llorentty Solíz said. He said the Council believes the new mission to be part of the strategy to ensure Haiti’s progressive transition to development. Earlier this week, Ban’s successor António Guterres appointed Josette Sheeran of the United States as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Haiti. She will guide full implementation of the Organization’s new approach.
The new approach on cholera involves two tracks: the first to intensify efforts to reduce and ultimately end the transmission of the disease, improve access to care and treatment, and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems. Track 2 involves developing a package of material assistance and support for those Haitians most directly affected by cholera.
MINUSTAH has endured criticism over cholera, which was introduced by Nepalese peacekeepers months after the earthquake. Despite publicly embracing the U.N.’s approach to eradicating the disease, which has killed more than 9,000 and sickened more than 800,000, nations have been reluctant to contribute to a $400 million cholera trust fund or support a new plan to turn over $40.5 million that will be left over at the end of MINUSTAH to the fund.
“We have heard the appeals concerning cholera, including the statement of a victim, and reiterated the Security Council’s support for the Secretary-General’s new approach,” Solíz said. The body has also come under fire for the sexual abuse and exploitation of Haitians by peacekeepers, many of whom have abandoned children they fathered while in Haiti.
“You can’t have a first mission that failed. You don’t address the failures, and then you go and continue another,” said Mario Joseph, a human rights lawyer who represents cholera victims and the mothers of U.N. peacekeepers’ children. “There is nothing for Haitians to have any confidence in. Cholera is a huge problem. What kind of response will they give cholera? The victims of cholera are still in the streets, they are still protesting. How do we know that MINUJUSTH won’t be worse? The children of peacekeepers who have been abandoned — those questions haven’t been addressed.”
The Council is scheduled to hold a briefing on the visiting mission on 30 June. (@OnuItalia)