For Immediate Release
October 15, 2010
Etant Dupain, Director, Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye, 3497-1717
Attorney Mario Joseph, Director, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, 3701-9879
HAITIAN CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS AND EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS PROTEST RENEWAL OF UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION
UN Security Council Concerned About Violence Against Women and Children but MINUSTAH Does Not Protect Them
October 15, 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Representatives from a dozen civil society organizations, including the alternative media project Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye, internationally-known human rights defenders the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, labor organizers Batay Ouvriye, and a movement for decent housing known as FRAKKA, are joining together with survivors of Haiti’s earthquake to demonstrate against the renewal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH.
The peaceful sit-in is the first to take place at the entrance of the United Nation’s logistical base (or logbase) near Haiti’s international airport where representatives from UN agencies and hundreds of international non-governmental organizations gather daily to plan Haiti’s reconstruction. Haitians are seldom participants in these meetings and are often barred from entering the logbase. At 10am protestors will block the road to deliver their message that Haitians want real assistance not the renewal of what amounts to an occupying military force.
The demonstration comes one day after the UN’s “peacekeeping” mission was renewed for the fifth consecutive time. Haitians living in tent cities, or camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) have been calling for housing and access to education. This is the third demonstration this week, following on the heels of protests at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs yesterday and at the office of Haiti’s Prime Minister on Tuesday.
Haitians are living in precarious conditions characterized by escalating violence, especially rapes and other gender-based crimes. Haitians are asking that their safety and right to life be given higher priority. They complain that the salaries and security of humanitarian workers are receiving the bulk of donor funding while both the Haitian National Police and the United Nations peacekeepers fail to protect them. Millions of dollars remain undisbursed in the bank accounts of non-governmental organizations around the world.
Yesterday, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of MINUSTAH, while simultaneously expressing concern for the safety of women and children in post-quake IDP camps. However, the grassroots based Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV) that supports rape victims and vulnerable children, reports that UN peacekeepers do not respond to their requests for protection and have not increased security for those most in need.
The MINUSTAH’s history in Haiti has been marked by violent confrontation with university students and civilians and human rights organizations based in Haiti and internationally have reported on incidents of human rights abuses, sexual exploitation and abuse and corruption within the forces.
More demonstrations are planned for the coming weeks and protestors will take their message to the embassies of the countries that are contributing soldiers to the MINUSTAH. At the same time, organizers are continuing to mobilize earthquake survivors living in camps through public debates and seminars so that they can demand their needs be prioritized and met.
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