Today’s resolution brings to a close mission that began in 2004 when Haiti was first faced with an armed conflict that had spread to several cities across the country. Accountability and reporting language has been added so that we are able to track the effectiveness of remaining personnel. Two regional hubs will be removed to focus efforts in the areas that need the most support.
As the stabilization mission in Haiti draws down and the new mission gears up, the Haitian people will be set on the path of independence and self-sufficiency. This is a success story when it comes to drawing down a peacekeeping mission. The United States will continue to stand with the people of Haiti. We have stated before the contributions of many of the peacekeeping troops in Haiti.
While this is seen as a success, unfortunately, it’s a nightmare for many in Haiti, who will never be able to forget and live with brutal scars. We must acknowledge the abandoned children, 12 to 15 years old, who lived everyday with hunger. They were lured by peacekeepers with cookies and snacks. The high price of this food was sexual abuse. According to Paisley Dodds of the Associated Press, the children were passed from soldier to soldier.
One boy was gang-raped in 2011 by peacekeepers who disgustingly filmed it on a cell phone.
What do we say to these kids? Did these peacekeepers keep them safe? We must acknowledge these realities. How can we learn from these acts? These peacekeepers are sent into vulnerable communities to protect the innocent, not to exploit or rape them.
The United States has made it clear to the UN and all troop-contributing countries that these abuses must stop. Countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end. The abuses do not represent poorly to a troop-contributing country if they hold these abusers accountable and stress this to the soldiers that are in place.
The United States will continue to work closely with Haiti as it makes progress towards security and stability. With the international community, we stand by the Government of Haiti and are committed to the country’s democratic development, independence, and economic growth.
We will, however, continue to push for accountability of those troops in Haiti, as well as all troop-contributing countries involved in peacekeeping efforts. We owe it to the vulnerable in these countries who desperately need peace and security. I ask that you join me in this effort. Thank you.