The UN Security Council on Friday decided to shut down a police mission in Haiti and replace it with a smaller UN political presence even as it admitted that the poor Caribbean nation faces major problems.
The 1,000-strong UN police force known as MINUJUSTH was deployed in 2017, replacing the full-fledged MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission, which was sent after a devastating 2010 earthquake.
MINUJUSTH will be gradually drawn down over the coming months and end on October 15, according to a US-drafted resolution that the council adopted on Friday.
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 13 in favor in the 15-member council. Russia and the Dominican Republic abstained.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was tasked with drawing up plans for the new political mission to take over in October to coordinate the work of UN agencies and cooperate with donors to help Haiti’s government.
Haiti is still recovering from widespread riots in February, when thousands of people took to the streets across the country — one of the world’s poorest — to demand better living conditions and the departure of the head of state.
A new prime minister, Jean-Michel Lapin, was confirmed by the Haitian lawmakers this week and will begin piecing together a government to confront the country’s problems.
US Acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen said the resolution marked the end of UN peacekeeping in Haiti afer more than 15 years.
The five police units that make up the mission will hand over all security responsibilities to the Haitian national police.
“Now is the time for the government of Haiti to step up and assume this responsibility,” Cohen told the council.
The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, abstained from the vote, citing concerns over upcoming elections in Haiti.
“MINUJUSTH will come to an end at the same time as elections are held in Haiti, a moment that can always augur for instability,” said the Dominican Republic’s envoy Jose Singer.
In the resolution, the council acknowledged that Haiti faces “significant challenges” and expressed concern over the rise in gang violence.
The larger full-fledged peacekeeping mission, which shut down in 2017, had fallen out of favor with Haitians after infected UN peacekeepers from Nepal introduced cholera.