UN ends peacekeeping mission in Haiti

The UN peacekeeping mission helped maintain order through 13 years of political turmoil and catastrophe. A new mission made up of about 1,300 international civilian police officers is set to replace the Blue Helmets.

United Nation's peacekeeping mission in Haiti will officially end on October 15, when about 100 remaining blue-helmeted international soldiers will leave the country.

The end of the mission was marked on Thursday with the UN lowering its flag at its headquarters in Port-au-Prince during a ceremony attended by Haiti President Jovenel Moise.

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The UN mission was viewed by many as something of an occupying force

The UN peacekeepers are to be immediately replaced by a security force of about 1,300 international police officers, known as the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). The security force will train and reform the national police force.

Various UN agencies and programs, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization, will continue working in the country.

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"It will be a much smaller peacekeeping mission," said Sandra Honore, a diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago who has served since July 2013 as the head of the UN mission in Haiti. "The United Nations is not leaving."

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was deployed in 2004 to stem political violence after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a coup. Its goals included restoring security and rebuilding the country's political institutions. 

In April, the Security Council unanimously decided to end the mission after agreeing that the election – which saw the swearing in of President Moise in February – was "the major milestone towards stabilization."

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Job half done?

The peacekeepers leave Haiti amid concerns that the police and justice system are still not adequate to ensure security in the country.

"There is still much to do for Haiti to attain the stability and sustainable development to which everyone aspires," said Honore.

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But for many, including a majority of Aristide supporters, it is good riddance. They have long seen the mission as something of an occupying army.

The Blue Helmets were also accused of accidentally introducing cholera to the impoverished nation following the deadly 2010 earthquake. More than 9,000 Haitians died in the epidemic. The peacekeeping mission has also been hit by allegations of sex abuse.

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ap/rt (AP, AFP)