The U.N. sanctioned military force of 2,370 soldiers known as MINUSTAH will end its operations in Haiti this October.
Led by a Brazilian troop attaché, MINUSTAH, also known as the blue helmets, has occupied Haiti for over 13 years. Their presence in the Caribbean island nation, officially deemed a peacekeeping mission, was directly linked to a cholera outbreak that killed thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago. Responding to the epidemic, U.N. official Farhan Haq had stated in an email that “the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.”
MINUSTAH, one of the longest running peacekeeping missions operated by U.N. troops, is now implicated in a child sex ring involving boys and girls as young as 12. One of the abused girls, identified only as V01 (Victim Number One), told U.N. investigators “I didn't even have breasts” when she was sought for sex by U.N. soldiers. She added that she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeeping soldiers, including a commandant who gave her 75 cents, from ages 12 to 15.
Despite the introduction of cholera and sexual abuse of children, British U.N. Ambassador Mathew Rycroft hailed MINUSTAH's mission, claiming that “Peacekeepers do fantastic work but they are very expensive and they should be used only when needed. We strongly support the ending of this mission turning it into something else. And I think we'll see the same thing elsewhere."
MINUSTAH troops will be replaced by a 295 member police force operated by the U.N. in October. They will operate in Haiti over a two year period. As Haiti strengthens its own civil police force, the U.N. police force will gradually reduce its presence. Their departure, a recommendation by the U.N. General Secretary, was countersigned by the 15 member countries of the organization's Security Council this month.