Monday, August 29, 2005

A Haitian Slum's Anger

The United Nations raided Cité Soleil, a squatter community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, seeking to kill a local gang leader. They succeeded, but locals claim the peacekeeping troops also killed innocent bystanders, some execution-style, The New York Times reports. Of course, even the UN's top official in the country concedes that stabilizing the country through the barrel of a gun is not viable. ""Force is not a solution for the security problems in Haiti," said Juan Gabriel Valdes. "You have to provide water, food, support in health, in education. We have not been able to do that."

It's a vicious circle. The UN fears violence, so it refuses to go into Cité Soleil. People have no services, and therefore are more apt to turn to violence. The key is to come up with a strategy to bring improvements to Cité Soleil. How about bringing water, electricity, and other services to the edges of the community, and offering to extend these services into Cité Soleil if residents renounce violence and gang leaders turn themselves in, along with their guns?

I know it's easier to be an armchair aidworker than to operate on the ground. But something has to be done to defuse the violence. Invading and killing people simple isn't the answer.

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