UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council voted Friday to increase the international police contingent in Haiti temporarily and authorized the U.N. peackeeping mission to support government efforts to recover from January’s devastating earthquake and protect the homeless.
The resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member council will add 680 additional police “as a temporary surge capacity” to help rebuild the Haitian National Police.
That will bring the total international police force to 4,391. The number of military personnel in the peacekeeping mission will remain at the level it is currently — 8,940 troops.
The council voted in October 2009 to extend the U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, for a year. But members wanted to address “the new challenges and threats” resulting from the Jan. 12 quake that killed up to 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.
“Considering all the tragic events that took place in January … it’s a very important decision by the Security Council,” Mexico’s U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, the current council president, told reporters after the vote.
The council shared the assessment of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a recent report that the earthquake didn’t destroy gains in recent years towards stabilizing the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, “but has created new obstacles as well as new opportunities.”
The resolution stressed the government’s leading role in the country’s post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.
But council members acknowledged “the valuable supporting role” that MINUSTAH can and is playing in allowing Haiti’s government institutions to continue operations, in building their capacity, and in providing basic services.
The resolution recognized “the need for MINUSTAH to assist the government … in providing adequate protection of the population, with particular attention to the needs of internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups, especially women and children.”
It also requested MINUSTAH to continuing working with U.N. agencies and civilian representatives “in supporting the humanitarian and recovery efforts.”
Hurricane season began this week in the Caribbean, and hundreds of thousands of Haitian earthquake victims have only tarps or fraying tents to protect them in a major storm. There has been little progress on clearing rubble so people can return to their neighborhoods or build sturdier shelters.
The government, which had five months to prepare, says it’s still working on emergency and evacuation plans. But it is unclear where people will go with many churches, schools and other potential shelters toppled by the quake.