BY DON BOHNING AND STEWART STOGEL
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
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
and unarmed technical consultants in the areas of human rights, judiciary and
police, plus an administrative staff.
20 PERCENT OF STAFF
But, because of delayed funding from the United States and the
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
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
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
The cost of the new mission, created in a U.N. General Assembly
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
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.
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
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