United Nations to Increase Number of Peacekeepers in Haiti.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti has announced it will send several hundred more new staff members to the Caribbean nation by the end of October.

In an October 15 statement, the United Nations said its peacekeeping mission, which has been operating at less than half of its authorized strength, expected to send 125 police officers from China, along with 622 Sri Lankan troops, and troops from a Spanish-Moroccan battalion.

The U.S.-backed U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) currently has some 3,090 military personnel from Argentina, Brazil, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uruguay, as well as 650 police officers. The 15-member U.N. Security Council had authorized 6,700 troops for Haiti.

Among its tasks, MINUSTAH is helping to establish a secure and stable environment; foster democratic governance and institutional development; assist Haiti's transitional government in organizing free and fair municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections as soon as possible; strengthen the rule of law; and support the country's human rights institutions and groups.

The United Nations said Haiti's Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has appointed a three-member Commission for the Demobilized Military to implement compensation and social reintegration policies.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council joined the United States in condemning ongoing fighting in Haiti, calling on all parties in that country "to take as much care as they can to respect the rule of law and to refrain from violence."

The U.S. State Department said October 12 that the United States condemns the systematic campaign of violence in Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, launched September 30 by armed gangs supporting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These gangs, the State Department said, seek to undermine the nation's interim government and the efforts of the international community.

The State Department said pro-Aristide thugs have "murdered policemen, looted businesses and public installations, and terrorized civilians."

The violence is particularly reprehensible, given the mid-September flooding in Haiti that claimed over 2,000 lives, said the State Department.

In regard to the flooding and mudslides triggered by Tropical Storm Jeanne, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said in an October 14 update on the situation that it has contributed more than $4.9 million to fund emergency activities and relief supplies in Haiti.

In Haiti's particularly hard-hit northern city of Gonaives, USAID said its funding is being used for a "cash-for-work" cleanup project, since cleaning up the city will "reduce the threat of disease and increase mobility."

[Source: Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 20Oct04]

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