The Miami Herald
March 16, 2000
U.N.'s Haiti unit short of staff, funds


 A scaled-down United Nations mission to Haiti, likely to be the last such residue
 of the 1994 U.S.-led military intervention that restored constitutional government
 to the country, gets off to a rocky beginning today, short on funding and lacking

 The mission's troubled birth comes at a critical time for Haiti as it moves
 uncertainly toward long-delayed parliamentary and local elections, currently
 scheduled for April 9 and May 21, but increasingly in doubt.

 Known as MICAH from its French initials, the International Civilian Support
 Mission in Haiti combines and replaces two existing missions with mandates that
 expired Wednesday: a U.N. civilian police advisory group and a joint U.N. and
 Organization of American States human rights and justice monitoring unit.
 Combined, the two missions totaled about 350 people.

 The two missions were due to end late last year but were extended until March 15
 in order to organize the new mission and get it operational, which it barely is.

 When MICAH is at full strength, it's to have slightly more than 100 nonuniformed
 and unarmed technical consultants in the areas of human rights, judiciary and
 police, plus an administrative staff.


 But, because of delayed funding from the United States and the tardiness in
 identifying personnel, the new mission will be activated with less than 20 percent
 of its planned strength, according to U.N. officials and diplomats close to the
 mission's organization.

 Among the early members will be directors and their deputies for the areas of
 human rights, police and justice plus a handful of others, plus seven
 administrative staffers.

 A U.N. official said Tuesday that about 90 percent of the people who will staff the
 mission have been identified. Among them are several from the two missions
 whose mandates expired Wednesday, but who have not yet been offered jobs
 because of the funding problem. As a result, many are expected to be leaving
 Haiti today.

 The cost of the new mission, created in a U.N. General Assembly resolution in
 December, is estimated at $24 million. Its mandate expires Feb. 6, 2001, the day
 a new Haitian president is to be sworn in.

 Of the $24 million, about $9.17 million is to come from the regular U.N. budget
 and the rest from voluntary contributions. That includes $7.5 million in leftover
 U.S. funding for previous missions to Haiti, but its transfer to MICAH has been
 delayed as legal requirements are dealt with and a determination is made on
 whether new congressional notification is necessary.


 A U.N. official said that if the money is not available by May at the latest, there
 may be a need to report to the General Assembly that the mandate as approved
 in December cannot be fulfilled and there would be a need to revise its objectives.

 Unlike previous international missions that operated under U.N. Security Council
 mandate, MICAH will respond to the General Assembly. Its chief will be Alfredo
 Lopez Cabral, Guinea-Bissau's former U.N. ambassador and currently U.N.
 Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal representative in Haiti.

 Michael Duval, Canada's deputy permanent U.N. representative, said at the time
 of MICAH's approval that ``challenge No. 1'' is the holding of ``credible legislative
 and local elections in order to establish Parliament, a pillar of democracy in Haiti.''

 Beyond that, Duval said, MICAH ``will make it possible to complete the transition
 already under way from a military peacekeeping presence to a civilian police
 presence and eventually toward a long-term cooperation program.''

                     Copyright 2000 Miami Herald