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#2866: U.N.'s Haiti unit short of staff, funds (fwd)
Published Thursday, March 16, 2000, in the Miami Herald
U.N.'s Haiti unit short of staff, funds
BY DON BOHNING AND STEWART STOGEL
A scaled-down United Nations mission to Haiti, likely to be the last
such residue of the 1994 U.S.-led military intervention that restored
constitutional government to the country, gets off to a rocky beginning
today, short on funding and lacking personnel. The mission's troubled
birth comes at a critical time for Haiti as it moves uncertainly toward
long-delayed parliamentary and local elections, currently scheduled for
April 9 and May 21, but increasingly in doubt. Known as MICAH from its
French initials, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti
combines and replaces two existing missions with mandates that
expired Wednesday: a U.N. civilian police advisory group and a joint
U.N. and Organization of American States human rights and justice
monitoring unit. Combined, the two missions totaled about 350 people.
The two missions were due to end late last year but were extended until
March 15 in order to organize the new mission and get it operational,
which it barely is. When MICAH is at full strength, it's to have
slightly more than 100 nonuniformed and unarmed technical consultants in
the areas of human rights, judiciary and police, plus an administrative
20 PERCENT OF STAFF
But, because of delayed funding from the United States and the
tardiness in identifying personnel, the new mission will be activated
with less than 20 percent of its planned strength, according to U.N.
officials and diplomats close to the mission's organization. Among the
early members will be directors and their deputies for the areas of
human rights, police and justice plus a handful of others, plus seven
administrative staffers. A U.N. official said Tuesday that about 90
percent of the people who will staff the mission have been identified.
Among them are several from the two missions whose mandates expired
Wednesday, but who have not yet been offered jobs because of the funding
problem. As a result, many are expected to be leaving Haiti today.
The cost of the new mission, created in a U.N. General Assembly
resolution in December, is estimated at $24 million. Its mandate expires
Feb. 6, 2001, the day a new Haitian president is to be sworn in.
Of the $24 million, about $9.17 million is to come from the regular
U.N. budget and the rest from voluntary contributions. That includes
$7.5 million in leftover U.S. funding for previous missions to Haiti,
but its transfer to MICAH has been delayed as legal requirements are
dealt with and a determination is made on whether new congressional
notification is necessary.
A U.N. official said that if the money is not available by May at the
latest, there may be a need to report to the General Assembly that the
mandate as approved in December cannot be fulfilled and there would be a
need to revise its objectives. Unlike previous international missions
that operated under U.N. Security Council mandate, MICAH will respond to
the General Assembly. Its chief will be Alfredo Lopez Cabral,
Guinea-Bissau's former U.N. ambassador and currently U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal representative in Haiti.
Michael Duval, Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative, said at
the time of MICAH's approval that ``challenge No. 1'' is the holding of
``credible legislative and local elections in order to establish
Parliament, a pillar of democracy in Haiti.'' Beyond that, Duval said,
MICAH ``will make it possible to complete the transition already under
way from a military peacekeeping presence to a civilian police presence
and eventually toward a long-term cooperation program.''