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Extending UN's Haiti mission, Security Council adjusts forces to reflect changes

15 October 2007 The Security Council today extended the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) through mid-October 2008 while reducing its military component and increasing police in order to adjust to changing circumstances in the country, where civil unrest remains a threat but gang violence has been significantly curtailed.

By a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council brought on board recommendations made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on Haiti, which called for the peacekeeping force’s military to enhance its capabilities in border control, engineering and mobility, while decreasing its infantry capabilities.

The Council endorsed Mr. Ban’s proposal to reduce the Mission’s military force level by one company, or some 140 troops, while increasing the police component with one additional formed police unit of up to 140 officers for a total authorized strength of 2,091 police. The ultimate aim is to transfer responsibilities to Haitian counterparts and to facilitate Haitian National Police engagement in conventional law and order duties.

On the military side, the remaining 7,060 troops will be reconfigured based on a recent threat assessment. Mr. Ban warned in his report that civil unrest remains likely amid the persistence of a deep socio-economic divide. In addition, “the potential for renewed armed violence within the country remains considerable,” he cautioned, while the illicit drug trade continues to have a destabilizing effect on Haiti.

In response, the Mission will reduce its military presence in calmer rural and urban areas, where increased Haitian and international policing capacity would facilitate the transfer of some basic patrolling duties, and will redeploy military personnel to establish patrols within maritime and land border areas, in cooperation with the Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH police.

The success of security measures in Haiti, including the fight against gang violence which netted 850 suspects as of the end of July, has not been without cost: six peacekeepers were injured in counterattacks.

The Council resolution “condemns any attack against personnel from MINUSTAH and demands that no acts of intimidation or violence be directed against United Nations and associated personnel or other international and humanitarian organizations engaged in humanitarian, development or peacekeeping work.”

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