Haiti UN Security Council agrees to shut down peacekeeping mission in Caribbean nation

The council unanimously adopted a resolution that will end the mission by October 15.

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A UN peacekeeper inspects the aftermath of a 2013 blaze that swept through a market in Port-au-Prince play

A UN peacekeeper inspects the aftermath of a 2013 blaze that swept through a market in Port-au-Prince

(AFP)
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The United Nations Security Council on Thursday agreed to shut down the peacekeeping mission in Haiti after 13 years and replace it with a smaller police-only force.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution that will end the mission known as MINUSTAH by October 15.

The decision provided a boost to the new US administration's hopes of cutting back its financial contributions to UN peacekeeping.

The council agreed that the 2,370 soldiers serving in MINUSTAH will be gradually withdrawn over the coming six months.

MINUSTAH will be replaced by the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) that will have seven units of about 980 police and 295 police officers.

The new mission's police force will also be drawn down over two years as the Haitian police is built up in the poor Caribbean nation.

MINUSTAH was deployed in 2004 after the departure of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to help stem political violence but it has not endeared itself to Haitians.

An outbreak of cholera in 2010 was introduced by Nepalese UN peacekeepers serving in the mission. More than 9,000 Haitians died in the epidemic.

At the weekend, Haiti President Jovenel Moise branded protesters who hurled stones at his motorcade "terrorists" and accused them of endangering his life.

With its annual budget of $346 million, MINUSTAH does not rank among the costliest peace operations run by the United Nations, but its closure signalled a shift toward smaller missions.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said he expected more cuts and closures of peacekeeping operations.

"Peacekeepers do fantastic work but they are very expensive and they should be used only when needed. So we strongly support the ending of this mission and turning it into something else and we will see the same thing elsewhere," Rycroft told reporters ahead of the vote.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley has launched a review of all peacekeeping missions to find ways of cutting back costs and improving the operations, which have been plagued with sexual abuse and corruption scandals.

In late March, the council reduced the size of its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the ceiling down from 19,815 troops to 16,215.

Missions in Liberia and Ivory Coast are also set to shut down, while the joint UN-African Union peace operation in Sudan's Darfur region is also expected to be drawn down.

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