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Jordan Sending 750 Troops to U.N. Mission in Haiti

29 July 2005

Peacekeepers to arrive before Haiti's October elections

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United Nations has announced that Jordan will send 750 troops to join the multinational peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

The troops from Jordan will arrive in Haiti sometime before the Caribbean nation holds parliamentary elections in October, a spokesman at U.N. headquarters in New York said July 29.

The announcement on Haiti-bound Jordanian troops follows a July 19 announcement by Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that she will be sending 200 soldiers from her country to join the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, as part of the Philippines' "engagement in the world in keeping peace."

The additional forces from Jordan and the Philippines would give MINUSTAH more than 1,000 personnel in Haiti working to stabilize the country.

The United States is also providing some of the civilian police and military personnel for MINUSTAH, which is being led by Brazil.

In a separate announcement, a U.N. official said July 29 that MINUSTAH is making "slow headway" on the many challenges facing Haiti.

But Jean Guéhenno, the U.N. under secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said MINUSTAH lacks "specialized capabilities" for the urban confrontations it experiences daily in Haiti.

Guéhenno said security in the Caribbean nation, where MINUSTAH has been deployed since June 2004, is the immediate and fundamental challenge, without which "no progress is certain."

The official said security improvements have been made in Bel Air, an impoverished district of Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince.  But he said no improvement has been made in another shantytown of Port-au-Prince, called Cité Soleil, where citizens have been the victims of gangs.

MINUSTAH has carried out a number of military actions in these two areas, Guéhenno said.  However, "it is not easy for MINUSTAH to conduct these operations because, operating in an urban environment, ideally you need the kind of very specialized capacities that the mission doesn't really have," he added.  "But this security situation needs to be addressed urgently."

Another challenge facing MINUSTAH, Guéhenno said, is the need to assist with Haiti's upcoming elections, which he said could be a "foundation for stabilization or could further divide the country."

Haiti's municipal elections are scheduled for October 9.  This will be followed by legislative and presidential elections November 13.  A new Haitian president is expected to take office February 7, 2006.

The United States is providing $15 million to support the Haitian elections -- part of a $44 million commitment from the international community to promote democracy and stability in the Caribbean nation.  The United States provided $8.7 million in 2004 to support Haiti's electoral process.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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