UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council unanimously approved a peacekeeping force of 8,300 soldiers and police for Haiti yesterday, the fifth U.N. mission to be sent to the beleaguered Caribbean country in a decade.
Deployment will begin June 1 to replace the 3,600-strong U.S.-led multinational force now in the country, though it will take time for all the new troops, police and human-rights experts to arrive. The mission's initial mandate is for six months, but diplomats said they expected to extend it for as long as it takes to get Haiti back on its feet.
"I hope with this we'll be there for the long haul and not lose patience as we did in the past," said Heraldo Munoz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations. "We will stay until democracy is reinstated, along with the rule of law and a strong state." Chile, along with France and Canada, sent troops to join the U.S.-led emergency force.
Brazil will lead the new U.N. mission and contribute 1,400 of the 6,700 soldiers. Angola, Benin, Nepal and Pakistan are also planning to send soldiers or police to Haiti.
But the United Nations is having difficulty mustering enough French-speaking forces to the Francophone island.
"There's a surge in peacekeeping, and there's a squeeze on troops," said David Wimhurst, the spokesman for the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
New peacekeeping missions expected for the Ivory Coast and Burundi, both French-speaking countries, as well as Sudan this year, could drive the number of blue-helmeted peacekeeping troops from 49,000 to 72,000, a 10-year high. "We're aware it's not going to be easy," Wimhurst said.
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