[Blackstudies-l] A New Chapter for the Disastrous United Nations Mission in Haiti

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Sun Oct 22 02:19:07 EDT 2017

ivetteromero posted: " Edwidge Danticat writes about the United Nations
Mission in Haiti, saying that “the UN may want to leave a dark chapter
behind, but Haitians will have to suffer the consequences for generations
to come.” See The New Yorker for the full article: The yea"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> A New Chapter for the
Disastrous United Nations Mission in Haiti
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>


*Edwidge Danticat writes about the United Nations Mission in Haiti, saying
that “the UN may want to leave a dark chapter behind, but Haitians will
have to suffer the consequences for generations to come.” See The New
for the full article:*

The year the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (minustah) came
to the country was a deadly one for my family. In February of 2004, Haiti’s
first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced
out of office for a second time, having been reinstated, and then
reëlected, after a 1991 military coup. This time, Aristide was replaced by
Gérard Latortue, a former United Nations official, who called those who
took up arms against Aristide “freedom fighters.” (Their leader, Guy
Philippe, is serving a nine-year sentence
a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to receiving multimillion-dollar bribes
from cocaine traffickers.)

That April, claiming that the situation in Haiti constituted “a threat to
international peace and security in the region,” the U.N. Security Council
passed Resolution 1542
establishing the Brazil-led minustah. The mission, which officially began
in June, 2004, lasted thirteen years and five months, and cost more than
seven billion dollars, before officially ending this past Sunday. Part
of minustah’s mandate was to assist the transitional government in insuring
“a secure and stable environment.” This is where my loved ones and others
came into the mission’s crosshairs.

I spent the first twelve years of my life in an impoverished neighborhood
in Port-au-Prince called Bel Air, where many Aristide supporters live. My
eighty-one-year-old uncle, a minister, had called this neighborhood home
since the nineteen-fifties, and was there on September 30, 2004, when
protests began on the thirteenth anniversary of the first coup d’état. In
response, the Haitian national police and minustah soldiers conducted joint
raids in Bel Air that led to dozens of mostly unreported injuries and
deaths. The following month, U.N. soldiers and Haitian riot police climbed
up to the roof of my uncle’s church and killed some of his neighbors below.
My uncle was forced to flee to Miami, where he died in the custody of U.S.
immigration officials after being denied asylum.

Bel Air was not the only area subjected to these raids. During one of their
bloodiest operations in Cité Soleil, another poor and densely populated
neighborhood in the capital, minustah used more than twenty-two thousand
bullets and seventy-eight grenades
among other artillery, to kill seven alleged gang members. No other deaths
were acknowledged despite further raids until early 2007, when the mission
head at the time, Edmond Mulet, brushed off such killings as collateral
This combat terminology was not incidental. minustah was a continuous military
operation <https://itstayswithyou.com/information/> in a country in which
there was no war.

There would be more collateral damage. In October, 2010, nine months after
an 7.0-magnitude earthquake nearly flattened Port-au-Prince and the
surrounding areas and killed more than three hundred thousand people, and
while more than a million people were still displaced or living in
makeshift tent camps, Nepalese peacekeepers stationed in the north of Haiti
allowed raw sewage from their base to leak into one of Haiti’s largest and
most intensively used rivers, causing a cholera epidemic
<http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/01/10/in-the-time-of-cholera/>. The U.N. at
first refused to investigate
<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/world/americas/17haiti.html> the source
of the outbreak and instead blamed Haiti’s lack of sewerage and
water-treatment facilities. More than ten thousand people have died from
cholera since 2010, and more than eight hundred thousand have been infected.

It took the U.N. six years to acknowledge
role in the cholera epidemic, and even though the former Secretary-General,
Ban Ki-moon, declared last December that the U.N. needed to “do the right
thing <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55694#.WeQcwcekNsN>”,
the U.N. continues to reject victims’ legal claims
<http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2101763,00.html> by
citing immunity. The U.N. has also failed to deliver
Ban’s promise of a four-hundred-million-dollar fund to halt the spread of
cholera and compensate the “most affected” victims. The fund has only
raised $2.7 million, and the current U.N. Secretary General, António
Guterres, seems unwilling to provide
payments to the cholera victims and their families, many of whom have lost
their sole breadwinner.

Neither the U.N.’s impunity nor the lack of accountability would surprise
the women
 and boys and girls
many as young as twelve, who have told of being raped—one boy says that he
was gang-raped—by minustahpeacekeepers, who, according to the Associated
Press, have used sex rings, offers of food, and other methods to trap their
victims. Unacknowledged “minustahbabies” and their destitute mothers are
treated as though they do not exist. Though minustah rapes remain
underreported, those who have come forward have had to confront the same
type of repudiation faced by the initial cholera victims. Their rapists
were rarely punished. They were simply sent home.

minustah has now been replaced by minujusth
<https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56559#.WeeskMekOt9>, a
smaller mission which began on Monday. minujusth , the United Nations
Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, has a mandate to “help the Government
of Haiti strengthen rule-of-law institutions, further develop and support
the Haitian National Police and engage in human rights monitoring,
reporting and analysis.” minujusth, which will will consist of twelve
hundred and seventy-five officers and support personnel, seems like a
rebranding effort, an attempt by the U.N. to give itself a clean slate and
erase minustah’s past. But if the U.N. were serious about justice and human
rights in Haiti, it would wind down its presence in the country by
having minujusth also investigate the damage done to both individuals and
entire communities by minustah. Or, better yet, assign an independent body
to do so, then offer the warranted compensation for the extrajudicial and
civilian killings, the sexual assaults, and the introduction of cholera. [.
. .]

[Photograph above by Paulo Whitaker / Reuters.]

For full article, see https://www.newyorker.com/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* | October
19, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Tags: A New Chapter for the Disastrous United Nations
Mission in Haiti
Edwidge Danticat <http://repeatingislands.com/tag/edwidge-danticat/>, Haiti
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/haiti/> | Categories: History
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/history/>, News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-ycy

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