On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to pull its peacekeeping troops out of Haiti. But it seems few Haitians will be sad to see them go.
The U.N. peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in 2004 to bring order to violent chaos after the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And for a while, the more than 2,000 U.N. soldiers did that.
But their mission – and their image – started unraveling after Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake. U.N. troops from Nepal infected Haiti’s water supply with cholera. The ensuing epidemic has killed almost 10,000 Haitians. (For years the U.N. refused to acknowledge its responsibility for the outbreak. Late last year it finally did.)
The sexual abuse was just as alarming – involving, in fact, more than 150 allegations. In 2011 U.N. soldiers from Uruguay raped a teenage Haitian boy. The next year U.N. soldiers from Pakistan did the same thing.
And this week the Associated Press reported that for years Haitian children were lured into a sex ring led by U.N. peacekeepers from Sri Lanka.
Now the U.N. Security Council has decided to withdraw all the peacekeepers by October. The reason: Haiti’s democracy – and its police force – are back on their feet. Many Haitians might disagree with that. But just the same, many will be relieved to see the peacekeepers exit.