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UN extends Haiti mission, urges donor conference
October 14, 2008 / 10:13 PM / 9 years ago

UN extends Haiti mission, urges donor conference

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The Security Council extended the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti for a further year on Tuesday and also called for a donor conference to aid the hurricane-ravaged nation.

The move came after the top U.N. envoy in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, warned last week that ignoring the plight of the Caribbean country and leaving its population hungry and angry could lead to a new wave of social unrest there.

At least 800 people died when Haiti, where soaring food prices led to deadly riots earlier this year, was hit by four storms -- Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike -- over about a month.

Annabi said last week the relief effort was beyond the financial resources of either Haiti or the United Nations.

Tuesday’s Security Council resolution said the situation in Haiti, many of whose nearly 9 million people live on less than $2 a day, remained a threat to international peace and security.

It extended until Oct. 15, 2009, the mandate of the 7,000 troops and 2,000 police in the Brazilian-led U.N. "Stabilization Mission," known as MINUSTAH, and said further renewal was planned. U.N. troops have been in Haiti since 2004.

The resolution also recognized the need for a high-level donor conference to support Haiti’s own economic growth and poverty reduction strategy.

It called on donor countries and the Haitian government to devise an efficient aid coordination system to focus on both short- and longer-term requirements and urged donors to speed up disbursement of pledges they had already made.

The United Nations launched an appeal last month for $108 million for Haiti, but according to Annabi, hundreds of millions of dollars are required just to improve the country’s drainage and sewage systems.

The recent flooding left behind vast amounts of mud, partly because 98 percent of Haiti’s forests have been destroyed, allowing earth to be washed down from the hills.

Annabi said there must be large-scale reforestation combined with an alternative energy plan. Firewood is Haitians’ principal source of energy.

Last month the U.N. World Food Program said it only had resources to help flood victims in Haiti through November. (Editing by Eric Beech)

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