Moments ago, the Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1908, increasing the size and strength of MINUSTAH. The move clears the way for an additional 1,500 UN Police and 2,000 UN peacekeeping troops. Brazil is expected to contribute the bulk of the troops and the European Union will dispatch police units to Haiti.
The vote follows Ban Ki Moon’s meeting with the Security Council in which he urged the members to boost MINUSTAH. From the UN News Center:
UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said the additional military personnel are needed to escort humanitarian convoys, which are increasing daily; to secure humanitarian corridors that are being set up between Port-au-Prince and the Dominican Republic, as well as between Port-au-Prince and the northern ports of Haiti; and to constitute a reserve force “in case the situation unravels and security deteriorates.”
Meanwhile, the main tasks for the additional police officers will include securing the delivery of humanitarian aid at various distribution points, and augmenting the Haitian National Police.
Image: Flickr (UN Photo)
UPDATE: At today’s press briefing, UN officials in Haiti painted a very grim picture. Acting SRSG Edward Mullet suggested that we may never know the death toll from the earthquake. He said several thousand bodies have already been disposed of in makeshift mass graves and that many thousands are still trapped under rubble. Many bodies will never be recovered under the rubble, he said. A spokesperson put the UN death toll at “well over 40 recovered bodies.”
Still, there have been some stories of heroism and international solidarity. UN officials singled out the Israeli operated field hospitals for special praise. One UN spokesperson recounts the story of seeing an Israeli doctor perform emergency surgery on the sidewalk. See this video of a special Israeli field hospital for children and infants, available on the UN’s YouTube page.