Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute today to 11 peacekeepers serving with the United Nations mission in Haiti who were killed when a plane crashed last week, hailing them for helping the Caribbean country`s people fulfil the enormous promise of their proud nation. "
A plane had been on a routine surveillance flight near the border with the Dominican Republic when it struck the mountain on Friday in the Fonds-Verrettes area of southeast Haiti, killing the six Uruguayans and five Jordanians on board, according to the mission, known as MINUSTAH.
Those we remember today were patrolling from the skies, but they could see something farther on the horizon: a brighter and more hopeful future for all the people of Haiti, " Mr. Ban said in a message to a memorial service delivered by his Special Representative, HÃ©di Annabi, in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
They ventured far from home to serve the shared values that bind us together as a human family, " he added.
The peacekeepers came to Haiti to protect the country`s borders and help victims of last year`s devastating storms and hurricanes, the Secretary-General noted.
These 11 brave men put everything into a painting a picture of a rising Haiti, more secure, more hopeful, more strong. "
The bodies of the fallen blue helmets will be repatriated after today`s service, MINUSTAH said.
In a related development, the Security Council today extended that mandate by one year of the mission, which has been in place in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, since mid-2004 after the then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.
Currently there are more than 9,000 military and police personnel deployed and nearly 2,000 civilian staff.
The unanimously-passed resolution recognized the ownership and primary responsibility of the Government and the people of Haiti over all aspects of the country`s stabilization, " as well as MINUSTAH`s role in supporting authorities consolidate peace.
It also welcomed efforts undertaken by Special Envoy to Haiti, former United States president Bill Clinton, to spur job creation, improve the delivery of basic services and infrastructure and attract private sector investment.