For Immediate Release: February 15, 2012
Contact: Prof. Mark Schuller: email@example.com; 718-262-2611
Jamaica, NY – As a United Nations Security Council delegation visits Haiti to review the mandate of over 10,000 UN troops stationed there, a newly published survey indicates that a majority of residents of Haiti’s capital have a negative opinion of these troops, available here: http://ijdh.org/archives/25111. The survey of over 800 households throughout Port-au-Prince shows that less than a quarter of respondents considered that the presence of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (or MINUSTAH) is a “good thing” while a majority feel that the troops aren’t providing adequate security. A large percentage (43.9%) of respondents believed that MINUSTAH agents are or have been engaged in criminal activities such as violence, theft and rape.
“The survey suggests that people in Port-au-Prince have an overall negative view of MINUSTAH,” survey leader Dr. Mark Schuller said, “with substantial numbers wanting the Mission to leave Haiti, and a great majority wanting the UN to provide compensation to cholera victims.”
More than a fifth of survey respondents (21.2%) said they wanted MINUSTAH to leave Haiti “now”, while an additional 22.2% would like to see the troops leave within a year. Only 5.9% of respondents said they do not think MINUSTAH should leave Haiti.
Finally, nearly three quarters of those surveyed (74.5%) believed that MINUSTAH owes some form of restitution to cholera victims. Only 4.9% indicated that they didn’t believe that MINUSTAH owed compensation to victims.
The survey, which was carried out in August of 2011 by four State University of Haiti students, covered a representative sample of Port-au-Prince households from low income and mixed income neighborhoods, as well as camps for the internally displaced.
MINUSTAH has been dogged by controversy, with human rights groups reporting a steadily increasing number of allegations of rape, underage sex, and unjustified acts of violence and intimidation involving U.N. troops. Since the survey was conducted prior to major scandals in which Haitian teenage boys claim to have been raped by MINUSTAH troops, it is likely that a higher percentage of respondents would say they believe MINUSTAH agents to have been involved in such criminal actions, Schuller said.
Various scientific studies have also indicated that MINUSTAH troops were responsible for introducing the deadly cholera bacteria to Haiti, resulting in over 7,000 deaths and half a million infections to date. Last October, two human rights groups filed a suit demanding reparations from the U.N. on behalf of over 5000 victims of cholera. Although the UNSC delegates presently in Haiti have announced that they will visit a cholera clinic, it is unclear whether they will address these charges.
Mark Schuller is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at York College (CUNY) and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’État d’Haïti. Supported by the National Science Foundation and others, Schuller’s research on globalization, NGOs, gender, and disasters in Haiti has been published in twenty book chapters and peer-reviewed articles as well as public media, including a column in Huffington Post. He is the author of forthcoming Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International aid, and NGOs (Rutgers, 2012) and co-editor of four volumes, including Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake (Kumarian Press, 2012). He is co-director / co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (Documentary Educational Resources, 2009). He chairs the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Human Rights and Social Justice Committee and is active in many solidarity efforts.