Bri kouri, nouvèl gaye.
Noise runs, news spreads.
UN Advances Plan to Withdraw Peacekeepers
June 07, 2013
SANTO DOMINGO, June 6 (Xinhua) -- More than 4,950 UN peacekeepers have left Haiti since 2011, as part of awithdrawal plan announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the world body's peacekeeping force in the country said Thursday.
Nigel Fisher, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah), said in an open letter posted on the UN website that in keeping with the scaleback, the peacekeeping forces' budget has also been reduced by 30 percent.
The Haitian government and Minustah have been holding talks to consolidate the UN troop withdrawal plan since February, based on the progress made on key goals such as beefing up Haiti's national police, he said.
"We are in the process of improving the plan to ensure it is feasible and contains clear indicators for the strengthening of national institutions and the reduction of Minustah's presence," Fisher said.
Last year, the UN Security Council said the number of Minustah troops should be based on the security situation in Haiti and the country's increasing capacity.
Fisher said a joint working group is supervising the plan's execution, adding that economic resources that become available due to the plan will be transferred to UN peacekeeping missions in other countries.
"I am sure both the Haitian and international actors agree that the gradual and orderly withdrawal of Minustah from Haiti is desirable and necessary," he said. "They also agree that the withdrawal is tied to the progressive strengthening of Haitian institutions that are key for security, the elections and the rule of law."
Minustah was established in 2004 to replace the multinational forces authorized by the United Nations following then Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide's exile and an ensuing instability in the country.
In October 2011, Ban informed Haitian President Michel Martelly of his goal to begin a gradual withdrawal of the mission.
Frustration Haunts Haitian Priest
Publication: The Day, New London, CT
Food and life. Many people perhaps take them for granted.
But for Johnson, a priest in Les Palmes, Haiti, those two words have profound significance. He survived the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and devastated the already impoverished country.
"Before the earthquake, life was already difficult," Johnson said Thursday through translator Degaule Morisset. "Life after the earthquake got even harder. The little resources we had were strained even more because people from Port-au-Prince were looking for help."
Les Palmes is a rural mountain village with a population of about 30,000. It has no running water and electricity is limited to the few buildings with access to solar panels.
Thirty residents of Les Palmes, Johnson said, were confirmed dead and dozens more were unaccounted for after the quake.
Vil was in Groton recently to visit his sister, who lives in town. He shared lunch with friends from the Diocese of Norwich Outreach to Haiti and St. Mary Church in Coventry and with Anthony Calhoun, who will travel to the village in October with DOCARE, a medical outreach organization.
These organizations, Johnson said, were instrumental in the village's survival long before the quake.
Johnson said he was in the rectory when the earthquake hit. Outside his window, he could see his beloved church crumbling to the ground.
"It was hard to think as it was happening," Johnson said as his eyes widened. "I still try not to think about it."
Immediately after the quake, he said, he held a funeral and burial for 15 villagers to prevent the spread of disease. He had to set priorities for who needed help immediately and who would have to wait for assistance. Aid workers didn't reach the village for about a week.
People were in shock, Johnson said, as many of their homes were reduced to rubble. Many are still living in tents.
"It's very frustrating for me to tell people that I can't help them," Vil said. "There just aren't enough resources."
Johnson said his main priorities now are building permanent homes, rebuilding the church and re-establishing the agricultural industry.
Anna DeBiasi, the development director of Outreach to Haiti, said the survivors immediately turned to Vil for guidance. "There really is no local government," she said. "He's the unofficial mayor. He's the go-to guy. He settles neighbor disputes and distributes aide."
Outreach to Haiti supports orphanages, primary care clinics and neighborhood meal programs. It "twins," or partners, parishes here with villages in Haiti.
Barbara Charland and Lou Friedrich, parishioners at St. Mary, said they were compelled both for moral and social reasons to help with the Haitian ministry at the church, which raises money to support the secondary school, teachers' salaries and student scholarships. They started a sewing and carpentry program.
When Johnson returns to Les Palmes later this month, he will find waiting there seven 55-gallon drums filled with necessities that St. Mary sent.
"How can you not help the people in Haiti?" Friedrich said. "There is just so much need."
Charland said she first went to Haiti in 1999 and was bitten by the "good Haitian bug." She has been helping ever since but was not in the country when the earthquake hit.
"When people learned that I was going, they would tell me, 'Be careful of this or be careful of that,' but what I learned is that people are people no matter where you go. If people need help, you have to help them."
After the earthquake, Johnson said, the will of the people grew stronger and more resilient.
"They became more spiritual," he said. "They thought, 'If I didn't die, it was because God wanted me to live.' Their faith grew and got stronger."