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INTERVIEW-Haiti police will keep the peace when UN force leaves - president

by Sophie Hares | @SophieHares | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 26 May 2017 07:57 GMT

A woman stands next to two Brazilian peacekeepers as they secure the perimeter of the Lycee Philippe Guerrier before the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

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The peacekeeping mission has been dogged by controversies, including the introduction of cholera to the island nation and sexual abuse claims

By Sophie Hares

CANCUN, Mexico, May 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Haiti's expanded national police force of 15,000 will be able to maintain security after the United Nations withdraws more than 2,300 peacekeeping troops following 13 years in the Caribbean nation, its president said.

Last month, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to end its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, and replace it with a smaller police presence, which will be drawn down after two years as the country boosts its own force.

"We are working to have a professional police force - a police force that gives security to the people, and to bring order as well," Haitian President Jovenel Moise told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on disasters in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

"I see that the national police at the highest level is ready to secure the country," he added.

The peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, one of the longest-running in the world, has been dogged by controversies, including the introduction of cholera to the island nation and sexual abuse claims.

As it voted, the 15-member Security Council acknowledged the completion of Haiti's electoral process in February as a "major milestone towards stabilisation" of the country.

Haiti's police force now stands at 15,000 officers, including rapid response personnel, up from 2,000 in 2004 when the U.N. mission arrived, said Moise, a businessman whose recent inauguration ended a two-year political crisis.

In the aftermath of last year's Hurricane Matthew, which claimed up to 1,000 lives as Haiti was still recovering from a powerful earthquake in 2010, Moise said the government plans to rebuild rural houses in hard-hit southern areas to better withstand both types of hazard.

"We will introduce the legal framework to parliament so Haiti will have... a system of resilience, a system of social protection that is capable of responding to natural disasters," said Moise.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which ends on Friday, is the first major conference since the 15-year Sendai Framework was hammered out in Japan in 2015, setting ambitious targets for governments to cut deaths and economic losses from disasters by 2030.

The seven Sendai targets also include limiting damage to infrastructure and disruption to basic services such as health and education, and widening access to early warning systems and public disaster risk information.

(Reporting by Sophie Hares, editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is reporting on resilience as part of its work on zilient.org, an online platform building a global network of people interested in resilience, in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.

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