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U.N. Votes Unanimously to End Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to end its 13-year-long peacekeeping mission in Haiti, and replace its blue-helmeted soldiers with police officers.

The mission, often a source of embarrassment to the world body, landed in Haiti in 2004, after a rebellion led to the removal of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It became arguably best known for introducing a deadly cholera strain to the country — and then refusing for years to take responsibility for it.

The cholera outbreak, which began in 2010, has killed at least 9,500 people so far and infected hundreds of thousands of Haitians. The United Nations apologized last year and proposed to compensate affected Haitians, but has yet to raise money for the effort. Of the $400 million that the United Nations says it needs, it has received $2.66 million, from only six countries — Britain, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea, according to data posted on its website.

The mission has also recently been troubled by allegations of sexual abuse. A sex ring, operated by Sri Lankan soldiers who were posted there from 2004 to 2007, exploited at least nine children, according to an internal United Nations report, The Associated Press reported this week.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, referred to the sexual abuse allegations in her brief remarks in the council chambers on Thursday. “The United States has made it clear to the U.N. and all troop-contributing countries that these abuses must stop,” she said.

She did not address the cholera outbreak, nor how the United Nations can compensate survivors.

The Haiti drawdown, which was recommended by the secretary general, António Guterres, comes amid pressure by President Trump’s administration to review each of the organization’s 16 peacekeeping missions. The United States is the United Nations’ largest financial contributor; it funds about 28 percent of the world body’s $7.87 billion budget, and Trump administration officials have said they want to bring that down to a maximum of 25 percent. The American contribution amounts to less than 0.1 percent of the federal budget.

Missions in Ivory Coast and Liberia, which have shrunk significantly in recent years, are already scheduled to close gradually. The mission in Darfur is set to end as well. The mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the subject of intense negotiations recently, with the Security Council ultimately agreeing to pare it back by about 500 soldiers to a little over 16,000 troops. Ms. Haley had sought deeper cuts.

In Haiti, the roughly 2,300 soldiers are scheduled to leave gradually by October. Seven United Nations police units will remain for an initial period of six months to train Haitian police officers.

The decision to close the Haiti mission represented a rare moment of unity on the Security Council, with the world powers agreeing that the country had reached a new level of stability.

Ms. Haley called the drawdown “a success story.”

©, 2017, The New York Times

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