PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters): “We are obliged to accept it,” said Charles Adison in one of the many schools that have been converted into makeshift refugee camps in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, speaking about a UN resolution this week that will see foreign forces entering the country to help police restore order.
The United Nations estimates some 200,000 Haitians have been displaced amid escalating violence, with armed gangs carrying out indiscriminate killings, kidnappings, gang rapes and burning down people’s homes.
A year ago, Haiti’s unelected government requested urgent help from foreign armed forces, but it was not until July that Kenya became the first country to propose leading such a force, and on Monday it was authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
“If they do the job according to what they say, it could be very good for us, we could go home,” said Neptune Dieudonne, who has been staying in a makeshift camp at the downtown Rex Theatre.
“If they want to rebuild my house which was burned down, I will accept it.”
Wary of foreign forces
Jean Remy Renald, staying in a camp at Colbert Lochard school, said he backed the force if it had a good roadmap, but was cautious about a lack of transparency from Haiti’s leaders and following abuses by previous U.N. missions.
“When the military is in the country they rape women, they play with our precariousness,” he said. “When the military leaves, they leave many children behind and give us cholera.”
A U.N. 2004-17 mission to Haiti left behind a sexual abuse scandal and cholera outbreak that killed nearly 10,000.
But Renald also pointed to the abuses committed by gangs.
“Those who talk about foreigners not treading on our soil – what have they done to give us security? What have they done for the people in this camp? Their houses have been burnt down, gangs have looted their homes, raped their wives, not to mention the people who have lost family members.”
For Adison, independence is not compatible with foreign military forces. “But given the current situation, we are obliged to accept it. Because of the insecurity we’re forced to sleep in the streets, we can’t live.”
Kenyan authorities said they hope to deploy police officers to Haiti by January.