In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Monday, 21 April 2008

A country on a precipice

Haiti is on a precipice. 'Substantial gains in politics, security and institution-building' have apparently created 'exceptional opportunity to escape the destructive cycles of the past', but a senior UN official has warned that the current food crisis could reverse this progress overnight.

H├ędi Annabi, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of MINUSTAH, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti told the UN security council that Haiti's new-found stability is fragile.

In his address, Mr Annabi recognised that the current administration's efforts to improve state services and fight wide-spread corruption and impunity had made them credible in the eyes of the public, but he outlined 'clear and continuing threats to the political consensus and democratic debate', which, he said, could generate unrest.

The Haitian populace are sensitive to these tensions and any sign of instability has the potential to undermine public confidence and lead to violent outbursts. The recent protests in the cities of Port-au Prince and Les Cayes demonstrate the complex security implications of rising food prices.

Mr Annabi told the security Council that sustained operations against gangs conducted in early 2007 continued to bear fruit and that the situation remained 'far better than it was.' However, a resurgence of kidnappings is compromising both the government and the UN's stabilisation mission.

He warned that in Haiti's difficult and changing political climate, there are indications that gangs may be trying to re-organize themselves. 'These kinds of threats, which appear essentially criminal in nature, may be manipulated for political purposes.'

The Haitian National Police Chief Mario Andresol, speaking to Reuters News, accused the gangs of escalating unrest in Port-au -Prince. Meanwhile, one protester accused the government, local businesses and the international community of conspiring against the Haitian population.

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