Haiti Disaster: EU To Send Gendarmerie Force To Help Maintain Law And Order

Source: Spanish Presidency Of the European Union

Published Tuesday, 26 January, 2010 – 12:24

The European Union has agreed to send a gendarmerie force to Haiti in order to help maintain order following the devastating earthquake that shook the country on 12 January. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, meeting today in Brussels, also agreed to create a coordination cell in order to exchange information about the civil and military resources contributed by the member states. This cell, to be named EUCO-Haiti, will be based in Brussels and Haiti.

The gendarmerie force will total around 300 people, most of them from countries with militarised police forces, and will operate under the European flag, according to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos. The decision came in response to a request from the UN to strengthen its mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Some of the troops are already on their way.

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, said at the end of the meeting she had chaired, that the EU will work to finalise a short, medium and long-term plan to help the Haitian authorities rebuild the country, and would send a reconnaissance mission for the purpose.

The European Commissioner for Development, Karel de Gucht, said it was a matter of urgency to build camps for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been internally displaced by the earthquake. He added that “the State has practically disappeared” and that reconstruction of the country would take years, and would require the help of the entire international community.

In today’s meeting, the ministers also agreed to establish a military mission to help train Somali soldiers as part of the support given by the EU to its partners in the region in order to stabilise the country. This mission will take place in Uganda and is expected to be launched in the spring. The mission will be carried out in close collaboration with the African Union, the United Nations and the United States, as well as with Uganda and the transitional government of Somalia.

The EU also restated its support for the Government of Yemen, two days ahead of a high-level meeting to be held in London. The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to a global approach comprising security, the fight against terrorism, political dialogue and economic and humanitarian aid.

The Foreign Affairs Council also agreed to expand the work of the EU’s military mission in Bosnia

and Herzegovina to include training of the country’s security forces. The ministers felt that reform in the security area “is an important part of the integral reform process” in Bosnia, and that the EU’s involvement in training tasks “could help to strengthen local capacity”. Operation Althea, involving 2,500 people, will meanwhile continue its work to maintain security in the Balkan country, assigned to it by UN Resolution 1895.

The ministers also agreed to restart development cooperation with Mauritania, which was suspended last August following a coup d’état. The EU believes that constitutional order has returned to the country following elections and the appointment of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as president.
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