The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera both reported yesterday on a protest at the "main U.N. logistics base" following the UN Security Council's decision to extend MINUSTAH's mandate. The protest, which involved around 100 people was broken up by MINUSTAH forces. AP correspondents, who were on the ground, reported that:
U.N. security personnel then emerged from the base. A plainclothes guard struck a protester before a Jordanian soldier with the mission fired a warning shot. AP journalists also saw a Haitian policeman hit protesters with his rifle and a U.N. vehicle push through the crowd, knocking over protesters and journalists.While Sebastian Walker of Al-Jazeera noted that, "Haitians feel that the presence of [UN] security personnel doesn't offer much in terms of ordinary Haitians living in camps."
Both articles could have been strengthened however by explaining the historical roots of Haitian's discontent with MINUSTAH, as heavy-handed assaults in the past have led to numerous deaths. Even since the earthquake, MINUSTAH has been involved in controversy. In September a Brazilian paper reported that the death of Gerald Jean Gilles may have been caused by MINUSTAH soliders. Also, in May Ansel Herz reported that MINUSTAH had fired tear gas into IDP camps in the capital following a demonstration at a university.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake MINUSTAH was criticized because of their lack of focus on humanitarian relief. In February Reuters reported that:
Initially, however, none of the peacekeepers appeared to be involved in hands-on humanitarian relief in what emergency medical experts describe as the critical first 72 hours after a devastating earthquake strikes.Five months after the earthquake we reported on the continuing prioritization of security over relief, writing:
Their response to the appalling suffering was limited to handling security and looking for looters after the magnitude 7.0 quake leveled much of the capital and took what Haitian President Rene Preval says could be as many as 300,000 lives.
Yet reading the last five Joint Operations and Tasking Center (JOTC) reports reveals that MINUSTAH is still focusing almost solely on security. Combining data from the previous six days, the JOTC reports show that MINUSTAH has undertaken 5,092 security operations, involving 29,537 troops, and 56 maritime patrols, sailing 746 nautical miles. On the other hand, there have been 51 humanitarian assistance missions, involving just 359 troops.