U.N., U.S. sign agreement on Haiti relief cooperation
The United States and United Nations signed an agreement on Friday clarifying the world body's responsibility for coordinating the international relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Reuters reported.
The agreement comes after U.N. officials, aid workers and diplomats had complained privately about tensions between the United Nations and U.S. military in the early days after the January 12 earthquake, as governments scrambled to get urgently needed aid to the poor Caribbean nation.
"This agreement formalizes the working relationship between the United States and the United Nations on the ground in Haiti, and ensures that this cooperation will continue in the challenging days and weeks ahead," U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said in a statement.
With an enlarged maximum strength of 12,651 troops and police, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, is responsible for helping Haitian authorities maintain "a secure and stable environment," the agreement says.
"The United Nations is coordinating the international response to the Haitian earthquake," it says.
But it makes clear that the Haitian government has primary responsibility for the response to the earthquake, security and in leading the recovery and reconstruction process.
The agreement also says the U.S. military, which has over 13,000 military personnel on the ground or offshore in Haiti, will not don blue helmets but operate under U.S. command.
It says the U.S. government commits to supporting relief work the United Nations says should have priority.