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Published:April 11th, 2008 05:41 EST
Desperation drives crises in Haiti

Desperation drives crises in Haiti

By SOP newswire

Three United Nations peacekeepers serving in Haiti were shot in a poor neighbourhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince, amid widespread public demonstrations and discontent over the rising cost of the living in the impoverished Caribbean country.

The Sri Lankan blue helmets were on patrol in the Martissant district when they were shot by unknown gunmen, a spokesperson for the mission, known as MINUSTAH, told the UN News Centre. "http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/minustah/

Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said the men were taken to a local hospital but their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.

She added that because the patrol was unable to identify the source of the gunfire, it did not return fire, in line with the rules of engagement for UN peacekeeping missions.

Protests have broken out across Haiti this week because of the rising cost of basic goods in the country, already the poorest in the entire Western Hemisphere. This morning fresh demonstrations were held in several towns and cities, some of them because of blackouts that have lasted four days. No schools were open in Port-au-Prince today and many businesses were closed or slow to open.

UN installations and vehicles have also been attacked and in some cases burned over the past week, although Ms. Boutaud de la Combe said there was no evidence yet that UN personnel were being deliberately targeted.

Yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement deploring the violence while appealing for calm and voicing sympathy for the suffering of the Haitian people.

UN agencies are operating across the country to bring relief, with the World Food Programme, http://www.wfp.org/english/" (WFP), feeding more than one million schoolchildren and the UN Children's Fund www.unicef.org (UNICEF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization, http://www.fao.org/">FAO, also providing support to people in need.

Ms. Boutaud de la Combe stressed that MINUSTAH's efforts to bring development to Haiti was a long-term project.

"We are in a corner right now, and the corner is between law and order and development… But we are confident that the results will show up quickly if we continue our efforts on the ground and the international community continues its support."

Source: http://www.un.org/news