Haiti: UN to increase force by 350

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a statement issued Jan. 30 that it is adding 350 Nepalese soldiers to its force in order to fight crime in Port-au-Prince. The light infantry battalion of Nepalese soldiers began arriving the week of Jan. 29 and will be fully deployed by early March, according to MINUSTAH. Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, the Brazilian commander of the 9,000-member force, said some Nepalese troops would be deployed almost immediately in the capital’s impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood. “I am determined to increase the pressure on the gangs who have been holding the innocent people of Haiti hostage for so long,” Santos Cruz said in the statement. “We must not give the gangs time to relax.” (Haiti Support Network News Briefs, Jan. 30 from AP)

The announcement came as questions continued about a MINUSTAH operation in Cite Soleil on Jan. 24, in which MINUSTAH reported that four criminals were killed and six people were wounded. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports that in the 48 hours after the operation the St. Catherine hospital, which MSF supports, received 17 people with gunshots wounds, including six women and a five-year-old child. One woman was suffering from the effects of tear gas. “A woman who was wounded by a gunshot arrived at the hospital in desperate condition,” said Fabio Pompetti, head of mission for the MSF program in Cite Soleil. “She was immediately transferred to the operation theater, but unfortunately she did not survive.” (HSN, Jan. 30 from MSF)

MINUSTAH carried out two more operations in Cite Soleil on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in which at least 10 alleged kidnappers were arrested, according to a MINUSTAH spokesperson, Jean-Jacques Simon, who specified that no one was injured or killed in the Feb. 1 operation. Simon said there was also an operation on Jan. 31 in Martissant, on the southern edge of the capital. According to Simon, the number of kidnappings in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area fell from 69 in December to 39 in January. (Agence Haitienne de Presse, Jan. 31, Feb. 1)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 4

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