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UN Security Council Authorizes 3,500 New Peacekeepers for Haiti

Margaret Besheer | United Nations 19 January 2010

The U.N. Security Council has authorized a request from the U.N. chief for as many as 3,500 new peacekeepers and police to be sent to Haiti. This will boost the U.N. force in Haiti to more than 12,000.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said the council's unanimous decision to authorize 1,500 more police and 2,000 troops for the next six months demonstrates the importance it attaches to supporting the post-disaster situation in Haiti.

"We believe that the adoption of this resolution will facilitate more effectively the implementation by MINUSTAH of important tasks, to maintain peace and stability in Haiti, to support disaster relief efforts, and to help restore capacity-building and post-disaster reconstruction," Zhang said.

MINUSTAH is the French acronym for the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti.

After the vote, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told reporters these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures and decisiveness. He said the Council's decision to approve his request for more peacekeepers sends the message to the people of Haiti that the world is with them.

"I am sure member states will respond positively and quickly as well," Mr. Ban said. "We must do all we can to get these extra forces on the ground as soon as possible, so that they can help maintain order and deliver humanitarian assistance."

It has been one week since the quake rocked the Caribbean island nation, leaving about one million people homeless and many more in need of aid.

Mr. Ban said relief distribution of items such as tents, medical supplies and water is improving, and food distribution is growing daily.

"We distributed daily food rations yesterday for nearly 200,000 people. We expect to be reaching approximately one-million within a week," Mr. Ban said.

The additional forces for the U.N. mission will help the 9,000 troops there to secure humanitarian corridors and escort aid convoys.

Peacekeeping officials say a battalion from the Dominican Republic could be in Haiti by the end of the week. Details of which countries will contribute the remaining forces are still under discussion and must be approved by the Haitian government.

In the meantime, the U.N. has shifted about 400 peacekeepers from other parts of the country to Port-au-Prince to fill the gap in numbers of troops helping with the relief effort.

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