UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Security Council authorized on Friday the dispatch of nearly 700 additional U.N. police to Haiti to combat a possible crime resurgence following January’s devastating earthquake.
A council resolution said the extra 680 police would be a “temporary surge capacity” aimed at supporting Haiti’s police, hard hit in the January 12 quake that killed more than 300,000 people in the impoverished Caribbean state.
The move will bring the number of U.N. police in Haiti to 4,391. There are also nearly 9,000 troops in the world body’s peacekeeping force known as MINUSTAH, which first went to Haiti in 2004 following serious civil strife.
The resolution said that with many Haitians living in camps as a result of the earthquake, which devastated the capital Port-au-Prince, there was “the risk of a resurgence in gang violence, organized crime and trafficking of children.”
The increase in U.N. police was recommended in a report on Haiti issued in April by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who noted that a number of dangerous criminals had escaped from prison during the earthquake.
Ban’s report also said the Haitian police needed U.N. help to establish a “sustainable and visible” presence in the camps and elsewhere to provide a “conducive environment” for elections planned for this year.
The United Nations had boosted MINUSTAH’s troop and police levels by 3,500 a week after the quake. The Security Council said the latest levels would be maintained at least through the elections and a transfer of power planned for February.
The U.N. move came three days after the U.S. military announced the end of major relief operations in Haiti.
Relief workers say more than 1.5 million quake survivors are living in crowded camps in and around Port-au-Prince.
Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Stacey Joyce