Peacekeepers leaving Haiti; what’s next?

Haiti (MNN) — Peace and stability — these were the goals the U.N. peacekeepers had when they arrived in Haiti 13 years ago. Now the peacekeepers are set to pull out of the country this fall. The big questions they leave behind are: did they achieve their goals? What’s next for Haiti?

The reviews are and always have been mixed. The U.N. has a deeper history in Haiti, but this latest chapter began in 2004. This mission, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, was meant to quell a rebellion that involved the resignation of then-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. NPR recalls several fronts to the stability — armed rebels, gang activity, and protests.

While these uproars were quieted, the U.N. peacekeepers brought other dangers with them. They were blamed for introducing cholera to the country, of which an epidemic was sparked after the earthquake in 2010. The death toll attributed to cholera is over 9,000.

Additionally, U.N. employees from various countries have been accused of several cases of sex crimes, even including a child prostitution ring.

(Photo courtesy of United Nations Photo via Flickr:

We spoke with Eva DeHart of For Haiti with Love, a ministry in the northern part of the island, to get their take on the subject. A contact on the ground spoke with several Haitians, including a policeman and lawyer.

Generally, the people’s opinion was that it was a good thing the peacekeepers were leaving. Many Haitians believe it will be better for ‘Haiti to run Haiti’, rather than outsiders.

DeHart said the policeman did raise at least one concern regarding the change: “He said that the U.N. leaving should put something in place, like a military, because Haiti’s insecurities will be worse without a strong force in the country.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, precautions along this line include a gradual removal of peacekeepers, prolonged company of U.N. police, and eventually the training of Haitian police.

The attorney DeHart’s contact spoke to said one thing the U.N. did was make sure presidents served their full terms.

“Politics have been more stable with the U.N. there,” she explains.

(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)

Regarding the ministry, DeHart believes the U.N. leaving will have about as much impact on them as they did while they were here. When asked if the peacekeepers helped solve corruption when supplies got stuck at the port, she says no — typically they couldn’t be found until an ordeal like that was over.

“I don’t expect us to be impacted nearly as much as the ministries that work in Port Au Prince and down south,” she continues.

And really, she says, we will just have to wait and see how things play out.

For Haiti with Love was established to demonstrate the love of Jesus and needs of the hurting wherever they can. This outreach has the ability to spread the Gospel of true healing and peace.

With that in mind, DeHart says we can pray this way:

“Pray that the Haitian people in general look at this as a good thing, and that they become eager to take responsibility for their own future instead of looking to someone else to solve their problems. Pray for their morale and just generally their courage to take a stand against evil and help their country get on its feet.”