When the United Nations deployed 6,200 blue-helmet soldiers and 1,200 police officers in 2004 to restore order in an unruly Haiti, ruthless armed gangs freely roamed the streets, corruption ran rampant in the judiciary and the country’s volatile politics were in a free fall.
Meanwhile, the Haiti National Police, awash in drug-trafficking and corruption allegations, numbered no more than 2,500 out of the 6,300 the U.N. had trained years earlier and two-thirds of its 182 police stations had been vandalized and burned.
As the U.N. Security Council permanently ends its 15-year peacekeeping presence in Haiti Tuesday, and transitions to a much smaller special political mission featuring human rights monitors and 25 police advisers instead of the specialized, heavily armed U.N. foreign police units that had helped stabilize the country, the Haiti National Police force boasts 15,404 officers and a full-time police presence in every one of Haiti’s 145 counties.
For a nation of approximately 11 million residents, that amounts to 1.35 police officers per every 1,000 people in a country roughly the size of Maryland. The number is below the U.N.’s objective and international standards.
The end of the peacekeeping presence comes as Haiti idles on the the verge of collapse.The government currentlyenjoys no real popular support, the bicameral Parliament is soon to be non-functional with just 19 senators, and the overwhelmed police force is struggling to contain violent anti-government protests demanding the departure of President Jovenel Moïse. Continue reading